HARRISBURG—Games like Blackjack, Roulette, even Poker will be coming to a casino near you. The House approving the measure yesterday, sending it to the Governor's desk.
The House members who voted in favor of the legislation claim, the expansion of table games will bring over 15,000 new jobs to the state along with millions in new revenues. These revenues will come at a time when the state is facing a huge budget shortfall.
"The yeas are 103. The nays are 89," said Speaker of the House Keith McCall when the final vote on table games was tallied.
With that decision, table games gets the go ahead from House leaders, saving a thousand state jobs immediately and possibly creating thousands of other jobs in the future.
"The creation of all of those jobs is really a terrific thing for PA," said Representative Dante Santoni, (D) Berks County.
The House approved the legislation, mostly along party lines yesterday, with House Democrats leading the charge. Those members contending these new games will generate 14,000 to 16,000 new jobs, along with millions in property tax relief.
"That's a boom to the economy especially when we are approaching 10 percent unemployment," said Representative Flo Fabrizio, (D) Erie County.
"The casino money is a recurring source of money that doesn't cost the taxpayers a dime, as the result, the benefits to the people of Pennsylvania is really quite large," said Representative Eddie Day Pashinski, (D) Luzerne County.
The bill charges casinos a $16.5 million dollar licensing fee, allowing for up to 250 tables in the larger casinos. State and local governments would share 16 percent of the gross revenue in taxes the first year with that number dropping to 14 percent in the second. Finally, the bill adds one more resort casino license and gives the existing parlors a chance to expand.
But most House Republicans were opposed to the measure, claiming the casino process needs reform, not expansion.
"They threw a little reform in but the main component of this bill is expansion of gambling in the Commonwealth, not reforming a bad process," said Representative Rob Kauffman, (R) Franklin and Cumberland Counties.
"The reforms are not where they need to go. They are not enough. They are too few," said Representative Curt Schroder, (R) Chester County.
Now that the bill has passed the Legislature, the threat of layoffs for one thousand state employees is over. The Governor is expected to sign the bill in to law some time today.
According to the Gaming Control Board, they anticipate all nine casinos currently operating will apply for the table games license. The bill also calls for an additional resort casino license, which a company called Mason-Dixon Resort and Casino announced yesterday, they are going to apply for. The location they are eyeing up will be just south of Gettysburg, close to the Maryland line.