Senate Approves Tomlinson Bill To Allow Table Games

The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Senator Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks) to allow table games to the slot machine operation being played at Pennsylvania’s casinos.  Tomlinson said Senate Bill 1033 will provide “reliable, recurring, revenue” for the state at a time when it is facing difficult budget challenges and will create new jobs and economic opportunities for the Commonwealth residents.

“The addition of table games will be a good fit and a way to generate money annually without raising taxes,” Tomlinson said.  “Slots have provided a significant amount of money for property tax relief and created quality jobs – this measure would put more money in our state coffers and help create additional good-paying jobs.”

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.  Licensees would also 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 Category 1 (racetracks) and Category 2 (stand alone casino) licensee must pay a fee of $15 million for a table game certificate.  In addition, an annual table game tax of 12 percent will be imposed, which would be deposited into the General Fund.  Each table game operator is required to pay a local share of 2 percent of the gross table game revenue to their local community. Furthermore, Category 3 (resorts) will pay a fee of $7.5 million.

Tomlinson said that the idea of table games has strong public support – In March, a Franklin and Marshall College poll found statewide support, 63 percent to 32 percent, for allowing the state’s casinos to offer blackjack, roulette, craps and other table games.  That number climbed even higher when those surveyed heard about the number of jobs the proposal would create.

“Table games will provide an additional 10,000 family-sustaining jobs and salaries, and generate economic activity in a host of related industries including tourism,” he said.  “They will also help to make us competitive with neighboring states like New Jersey and West Virginia, which are benefiting from revenue from table games.”

Tomlinson added that the timing is right for the table game expansion, given the fact that the Senate also today passed a gaming reform package.  The reform measure would more tightly regulate the gaming industry and provide greater accountability and transparency.




Fran Cleaver
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