Pennsylvania Counting on Gambling

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s 2014-15 budget plan counts on increased revenue from gambling, including tavern games, video keno, racing and the lottery.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s .4 billion budget for 2014-15 relies in part of projected revenues from recently legalized tavern games and video keno, as well as projections of increased revenue from casinos, horse racing and the lottery.

The budget includes $102 million to be gleaned from tavern gaming such as pull-tabs, raffles and daily drawings. The recently legalized games are projected to produce $160 million a year in licensing fees, with a 60 percent tax on profits.

Also included is $20 million from video keno, expected to be introduced by the Pennsylvania lottery. Overall lottery revenue to the stat is projected to grow from $1.8 billion to $1.93 billion next year.

Corbett’s budget also estimates a rise in casino taxes from table games—from $92 million to 94.7 million—and a rise of $1 million in revenue from horse racing.

Some of the state’s casino operators are wary of the governor’s projections. In an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Sean Sullivan, vice president and general manager of the Meadows Racetrack & Casino, says increasing competition from Ohio and other states could keep increases in casino revenue low.

“There aren’t new gamblers showing up every day on our doorstep,” Sullivan said, adding that new gambling such as tavern games and keno are ‘not creating a new experience; it’s just going after the same customer.”

Meanwhile, another state senator is questioning the governor’s projections on the small games of chance in taverns, since as of last week, only six of the 16,000 eligible bars and taverns across the state had applied for licenses to offer the games.

“This rollout’s worse than Obamacare, all right?” Senator Jake Corman, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told Pittsburgh public radio station WESA. “More people signed up for Obamacare than were signing up for these small games of chance—from an industry that begged for this.”