HARRISBURG, Sept. 16, 2009 – Calling it a good way to create jobs and help keep Pennsylvania’s casinos competitive, State Sen. Wayne D. Fontana (D-Allegheny) today said he would likely support allowing table games at existing casinos.
“While I will insist that the state legislature thoroughly and openly examine this issue before legalizing table games, I believe this rational expansion at existing facilities will create good jobs, encourage additional economic activity and generate badly needed tax revenues,” Fontana said.
Fontana co-chaired today’s Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee hearing on the table games bill (Senate Bill 1033).
He said legalizing table games at existing casinos would restrict access to gaming where it is already located and would generate up to 10,000 new jobs. Licensees would be required to pay for a table games license as well as a tax on their earnings.
“Over 70 percent of Pennsylvanians support adding table games,” Fontana said. “It would generate millions in tax revenue, generate good jobs, and create spin-off economic benefits for local hotels, restaurants, and other businesses.”
He noted that in just two years, Pennsylvania’s gaming industry, which doesn’t even have its biggest casinos up and running yet, generated over $1.2 billion for general property tax relief. He said hundreds of millions of more dollars in proceeds were generated for expanding senior citizen programs and investing in economic development projects.
The Brookline Democrat added that legalizing table games would be particularly beneficial to western Pennsylvania casinos located in Pittsburgh (Rivers Casino) and Washington County (Meadows) that are currently competing at a disadvantage with West Virginia casinos that already offer table games.
Fontana did caution, however, that he would follow through on his joint proposal with Senator Sean Logan (D-Monroeville) to block the Rivers Casino from offering table games if it refuses to make its agreed-to annual payment for the new arena in Pittsburgh.
At today’s hearing, the committee heard from the bill’s sponsor, Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board officials, and industry experts. Fontana said another hearing on table games would likely be held before any legislative action is taken.