The General Assembly approved and Governor signed Senate Bill 711, which would allow for table games in Pennsylvania casinos, according to Senator Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks), who supported the measure as a way to generate needed revenue and jobs for the Commonwealth.
Tomlinson said Senate Bill 711 will provide “reliable, recurring, revenue” for the state and local communities at a time when it is facing difficult budget challenges and will create new jobs and economic opportunities for 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 into the general fund and help create additional good paying jobs at a time when we need them most.”
The legislation will 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) licensees must pay a fee of $16.5 million for a table game certificate and get 250 gaming tables. In addition, an annual table game tax of 16 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% of the gross table game revenue to their local community. In the second year, the gross tax rate will drop to 14 percent. Furthermore, Category 3 (resorts) licensees will pay a fee of $7.5 million and get 50 gaming tables.
“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 legislature also passed a gaming reform package. The reform measure would more tightly regulate the gaming industry and provide greater accountability and transparency. Gaming officials estimate that table games will begin appearing in Pennsylvania casinos between 6 to 9 months.