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Pennsylvania Debates Pros and Cons of Casino Gaming Expansion

Allowing casino table games like blackjack in the casino facilities of Pennsylvania will create more than 10,000 new job opportunities and produce more than $164 million in yearly gambling taxes, according to a study by the Innovation Group of Ventnor, New Jersey. The study is already in the hands of legislative officials and members of the state Gaming Control Board in Harrisburg.

Tom Andrew, the press secretary for state Representative Bill DeWeese, a Democrat from Greene County said on June 15th, 2009 that casino owners commissioned the Innovation Group study. Rep. DeWeese is planning to reintroduce a bill that will permit casino table games in Pennsylvania casino facilities.

Andrews stated that the study has no effect on Rep. DeWeese's legislation, but its contents bear some resemblance with it. Andrews said that the report shows the advantages that the state of Pennsylvania will receive from the casino table games. He added that is the main reason why Rep. DeWeese is reintroducing the gaming proposal.

DeWeese estimates that casino table games in Pennsylvania will produce $200 million to $300 million in yearly revenue.

Casino owners have been pushing for a change in the state law that will permit casino table games. Las Vegas Sands head Sheldon Adelson stated that the approval of the casino table games will allow his company to invest more money in the Bethlehem Casino.

The study concludes that installing table games in casino facilities brings in a positive effect on the economy but it does not deal with the social effects of offering additional variations of legalized gaming. Figures in the Innovation Group study are based on how casino facilities like the Wheeling and Mountaineer casino in West Virginia and the Prairie Meadows and Dubuque Greyhound Park in Iowa performed after introducing casino table games.

Innovation Group's study has not been given into the hands of all legislators. State Senator Pat Browne (Republican-Lehigh/Monroe/Northampton) said that he has not yet seen the study.

Browne, who is withholding judgment on whether to support the table game proposal until a serious proposal is push forward, stated that he expects that there will be calls for further studies in the coming months as the debate over the proposal continues.


Wednesday, July 22 , 2009
Kim Watson