Pennsylvania could gain more than 10,000 jobs and benefit from more than $230 million in increased revenue under legislation introduced by Senators Tommy Tomlinson (R-6) and Robert Mellow (D-22) that would allow table games in casinos.
Tomlinson and Mellow said Senate Bill 1033 would provide much-needed additional revenue and economic benefits at a time when the Commonwealth is facing a $3.2 billion budget deficit and the worst recession in decades.
They cited a recent study by the Innovation Group, which analyzed the economic impact of table games on Pennsylvania gaming revenue. According to that study, table games would incrementally increase existing slots revenue by 3.5 percent, provide new and increased tax revenue for the Commonwealth, create more than 16,000 new jobs and generate roughly $1 billion in total economic input.
“Table games in casinos would be an economic boon to the state at a time when we desperately need more jobs and more revenue,” Tomlinson said. “Slots revenues are helping us to lower property taxes – the addition of table games could bring in more money to help fund needed state programs and services.”
The legislation would create a Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board review process for existing slot licensees who want to apply for a table game operation certificate. Among other information, the applicant would be required to demonstrate the number of jobs that will be created and the economic benefit to the Commonwealth, its political subdivisions and its residents.
Each eligible slot machine licensee would pay a certificate fee of $10 million and an annual table game tax of 12 percent, which would be deposited into the General Fund.
Tomlinson said that the idea of table games also has public support – In March, a Franklin and Marshall College poll found statewide support, 63 to 32 percent, for allowing the state’s casinos to offer blackjack, roulette, craps and other table games.
Mellow added that the timing is right for the table game expansion, pointing to a major gaming reform package which recently passed the Senate with overwhelming support. The measure would more tightly regulate the gaming industry and provide greater accountability and transparency.
“The tourism industry and taxpayers alike would reap the rewards of allowing table games in Pennsylvania casinos,” said Mellow. “If we want Pennsylvania to maintain a competitive edge with surrounding states like New York, New Jersey, and West Virginia, we must give them this tool which attracts millions of dollars that is in turn used to fund vital programs.”
The Senators said that table games are a natural extension of the type of entertainment that casinos currently offer and could provide a huge economic benefit to Pennsylvanians in the coming years.