Gambling expanded in Pennsylvania

New offerings will put pressure on neighbouring states in the competition for land gamblers.

The state of Pennsylvania has seriously upped the competitive ante in land gambling, legalising poker, blackjack and other table games at its casino licensees this week as it seeks to close budgetry gaps with gambling tax revenues.

Casinos in the eastern state have traditionally been restricted to offer only slot gambling. The dramatic change to a wider gambling offering is expected to take up to six months before practical implementation, but reports indicate that the move has caught the attention of several neighbouring states whose casinos will inevitably be impacted, notably New Jersey's Atlantic City.

The extended games offering will be available through 14 Pennsylvanian casinos after the Pennsylvania House voted by a margin of 103 to 89 to approve the introduction of table games. Only 12 Republicans voted for the measure, while 10 Democrats voiced their opposition to it in a vote split largely along party lines.

In the Senate, a total of 28 “yays” and 22 “nays” were recorded in a similar margin of victory, reports Associated Press.

In response to the passage, the Mason-Dixon Resort and Casino declared that it would apply for a license to open a property near the historic town of Gettysburg.

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell would have been forced into a quandary if the bill hadn’t passed. Reuters reports indicate that the state would have had to lay off nearly 1 000 of its personnel due to a lack of revenue. Under the new measure, tax funds will be raised from casinos, which will be allowed up to 250 table games, while resorts will be permitted to have up to 50. Licenses would run $16.5 million and $7.5 million, respectively. Table games are taxed at a rate of 16 percent for the first two years and 14 percent thereafter.

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