More money counted on from PA gambling; VGTs back in the mix

PA Gaming Package Simmers Behind Scenes; Action On Online Gambling Could Be Imminent

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Pennsylvania still doesn’t have a plan to pay for its budget. Nor is there agreement on a gambling package — including online gambling — that would help pay for it.

But that could all change in a hurry next week, as the Senate will be back in session. And serious work — on both fronts — could be on the front burner.

The latest on PA and the budget

Right now, there’s not much going on. That isn’t shocking, as the state’s lawmakers have dawdled for months on funding a budget it passed long ago.

A week after the Senate voted down a House-approved revenue plan, nothing material has happened as the legislature has dealt with other matters in the public view.

Meanwhile, State Treasurer Joe Torsella said he would not authorize short term loans, further ratcheting up pressure on the legislature and Gov. Tom Wolf to pass a revenue package.

But the Senate plans to reconvene on Monday, and that could mean action for both the budget and iGaming.

More money from gambling?

Despite the lack of public progress that we have seen on gambling matters, lawmakers and lobbyists have been active on the subject. And that includes online gambling.

Source chatter has indicated that this Sunday is when Wolf and lawmakers would like to have a gambling agreement in place. That would coincide with the Senate spurring back to action at the top of next week.

Notably, it appears, more money will be counted on from a gambling package, which would certainly seem to be good news for the legalization of online gambling. From GamblingCompliance’s Chris Krafcik:

More from GC earlier in the week on the lay of the land in PA (paywall).

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A VGT compromise?

The issues of satellite casinos and video gaming terminals have complicated gaming negotiations, even as iGaming remains a relatively noncontroversial moving part.

It had appeared those issues had been pulled off the table as summer has turned to fall. But Krafcik also reported that both satellites and VGTs, in a limited fashion, were in a working Senate Republican proposal.

The authorization of tens of thousands of VGTs around the state at bars and taverns — a plan favored by the House — had long been considered a dead issue in the Senate. (The issue was also classified as “on life support” by state sources as recently as this week.)

But the limited rollout would appear to be an attempt at compromise on the issue.

What will we actually see from a gambling package, and does it have a chance to reach the finish line? Those answers may come soon.

- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. He has played poker recreationally for his entire adult life and has written about poker since 2008.
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