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Pennsylvania Casino Table Games Proposal Receives Approval from State Legislature

The state of Pennsylvania legalized casino table games like blackjack on January 7th, 2010, improving the ante in the increasingly fierce competition among US states for the money of gamblers.

Governor Ed Rendell, whose signature was the last step needed in approving the law, said that he had some second thoughts about expanded gaming, partly because not all of the fourteen gaming facilities authorized by the 2004 law that legalized slot machine gaming are operational.

It may be more than six months before the first cards are given put, but millions of dollars in licensing costs are expected to start pouring into the Pennsylvania treasury much sooner. The casino table games bill was an important factor of the October 2009 agreement that ended Pennsylvania's 101-day budget deadlock and came about because other means of raising tax revenues are not acceptable.

The new gaming law is the latest attempt by recession-crippled state government to solve the deficit in the budget. The state of Indiana is also considering permitting riverboat casinos on Lake Michigan and the Ohio River. In November 2009, Ohio voters approved a ballot measure to place casino facilities in four cities. Kentucky's governor also wants to place slot machines or casino table games at racing tracks and Chicago also plans to build a new casino facility.

Closer to the state of Pennsylvania, the state of Delaware recently started permitting parlay wagering on sports at its racing track casinos and a new report indicates that it may have to construct two casino facilities to keep pace with neighboring states. Last month, state voters approved casino table games for a horse racing track in Charles Town, West Virginia.

Maryland voters have also approved up to fifteen thousand slot machines in five locations, although progress on implementing gaming there has been slow. University of Nevada-Las Vegas professor Bill Thompson said that he sees the gaming expansion as a border war.

The larger Pennsylvania casino facilities will qualify for up to 250 casino table games, while two smaller resort casinos will be limited to fifty casino table games. A third resort can be added in 2017.

A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, Doug Harbach, said that casino organizations will likely improve their non-gaming offerings-restaurants, hotel and entertainment-to take advantage of the increase in player traffic.

Rendell said that even with the additional money from casino table games, additional cuts to state programs and the state work force remains a big possibility for the current fiscal year, which ends on June 30th.


Wednesday, February 24 , 2010
Thomas Johnson