Highlights of Pennsylvania’s casino gambling expansion law

Casino, gambling
Credit: WHTM

Gov. Tom Wolf has signed a measure to expand casino-style gambling in Pennsylvania — already the nation’s No. 2 commercial casino state — after lawmakers approved it last week in a bid to help the state government plug its biggest cash shortfall since the recession.

Casino license fees and taxes on gambling losses will go to the state’s main bank account, property tax rebates, and local government treasuries and projects. Here is a look at some of the elements:

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SATELLITE CASINOS

Pennsylvania’s 10 larger casinos can bid on a satellite casino license allowing up to 750 slot machines and 30 table games at a facility that isn’t within 25 miles of another casino. Certain counties are also off-limits. Bidding starts at $7.5 million, with a table games certificate costing an extra $2.5 million. A municipality could choose to prohibit such an establishment inside its borders.

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GAMBLING AT TRUCK STOPS

Qualifying truck stops can operate up to five slot machine-style machines called video gambling terminals. Counties that host a casino can prohibit the machines inside its borders.

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ONLINE GAMBLING

Licensed casinos, both in Pennsylvania and potentially beyond, can apply to operate casino-style gambling on websites and mobile applications to people in Pennsylvania. A license fee of $10 million allows a casino to operate poker, table games and slot machine-style games online. Just three states — New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada — allow online casino gambling.

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LOTTERY

The Pennsylvania Lottery can offer keno and feature online games, including its existing games, instant tickets and raffle games. The proceeds go into the Lottery Fund, which subsidizes programs for the elderly. The lottery is prohibited from operating casino-style games online, such as poker, roulette, slot machines and blackjack. Four states — Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky and Michigan — allow online lottery play, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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LOCAL SHARE

Casinos are required again to pay millions of dollars annually to their host communities, reinstating a mandate struck down by the state Supreme Court last year because it treated casinos differently. The requirement had meant about $140 million that Pennsylvania’s casinos pay annually to local government budgets, institutions and projects in Philadelphia and 11 counties.

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AIRPORT GAMBLING

Casinos can seek approval to operate an interactive gambling parlor at an international or regional airport in Pennsylvania, with an agreement from the airport authority. The machines would be accessible only to ticketed passengers. Eligible airports are: Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Erie; Wilkes-Barre/Scranton; Lehigh Valley; Harrisburg; Arnold Palmer Regional Airport; and University Park Airport in State College.

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FANTASY SPORTS

Daily fantasy sports betting in Pennsylvania becomes regulated and taxed in Pennsylvania. Fantasy sports operators must verify that players are at least 18.

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SPORTS BETTING

Casinos can apply to offer sports betting at the casino or online, should it become legal under federal law or under a federal court ruling. A license would cost $10 million.

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RESORT CASINOS

Valley Forge Casino in suburban Philadelphia and Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin in southwestern Pennsylvania can pay fees to add slot machines and table games and to allow gambling by people who aren’t taking part in other amenities there.

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CASINO OWNERSHIP

A 2004 provision limiting ownership of casinos to no more than one controlling stake in one casino is repealed. That could end a lawsuit that has held up construction of the Live! Hotel & Casino in Philadelphia for nearly three years.

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Source: Pennsylvania House and Senate Republicans.

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