Mia Gardner | 20 Nov 2017
It been just days since Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf approved several major changes to local gambling legislation, but the profits are already rolling in. Specifically, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has reported receiving a $1 million payment from Valley Forge Casino Resort, a state resort using the new laws to help attract patrons.
The new legislation has enabled such resorts to open to the general public at no extra cost for players. The result of this change has been a significant increase in casino players at these resorts, which accounts for the $1 million already paid to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Clearly, this new bill enables an extremely lucrative way of doing business.
In addition to this amendment regarding public access, the new gambling bill has legalised various other gambling activities previously prohibited in Pennsylvania. Most significant among these is the legalisation of online gambling within the state – making Pennsylvania only the fourth state in the US to do so.
The new bill has also expanded the state’s land-based gambling industry in other ways. Firstly, mini casinos will soon start popping up at truck stops and in airports across the state. Secondly, there are now 10 micro casino licences available exclusively for existing casino owners to bid on.
Numerous key groups and individuals in the state have long been pressing for more relaxed gambling laws in Pennsylvania. The primary motive behind this is the extensive financial benefit that the government stands to gain if local gambling activity is increased.
Now, four months since the controversial budget stalemate rocked the state, there has never been a time when the state was more desperately in need of increased revenues. The projected annual $200m in casino licence fees and taxes due to the state under these new laws should make a considerable dent in Pennsylvania’s current $2.2bn deficit. In fact, it may even render Governor Wolf’s plans to borrow $1 billion from the state’s liquor tax in the short-term (in an attempt to plug this gaping economic hole) unnecessary.
Opinion on how this historic new bill in Pennsylvania will influence the decisions of law makers in other states remains divided. The more optimistic believe that the powerful positive impact of the gambling industry on GDP will cause many other states to follow Pennsylvania’s lead in the very near future. Others, like Paddy Power’s outgoing Chief Exec Breon Corcoran, are not so quick to see the situation in Pennsylvania as contagious, but will nevertheless be keeping tabs on the situation as it unfolds.