HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Top Republicans in Pennsylvania’s state Senate are pressing sweeping gambling legislation that would allow slot machine-like terminals in thousands of bars, restaurants, nonprofit social clubs and other businesses that hold liquor licenses.
The legislation could deliver new gambling tax dollars to a state treasury hurting from stay-at-home and shutdown orders issued by Gov. Tom Wolf to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
It also seeks to banish thousands of unregulated cash-paying “skill” game terminals from a wide array of establishments in Pennsylvania, including laundromats, pizza parlors, grocery stores, corner stores and bowling alleys, that do not have liquor licenses.
No Senate vote had been scheduled as of Tuesday as Senate Republican leaders worked to build enough support for it to pass. The bill is opposed by two erstwhile adversaries: casino owners in the nation’s No. 2 commercial casino state and Georgia-based Pace-O-Matic, maker of the software in most common skill terminals, marketed as Pennsylvania Skill games.
Wolf, a Democrat, is taking a dim view of it, warning in a statement from his office that state programs already fed by a “multitude” of legal gambling options, from slot machines in casinos to online lottery games, could lose dollars. He opposes the bill in its current form, his office said Tuesday.
Under a draft amendment, more than 10,000 bars, restaurants, hotels, golf course clubhouses and nonprofit social clubs with liquor licenses could install the so-called video gaming terminals, or VGTs. Counties that host casinos and municipalities could still vote to keep