Bill would permit slots at OTBs in Pennsylvania

Bill would permit slots at OTBs in Pennsylvania

Anne M. Eberhardt

PA House Passes Internet Gambling Amendment

Some OTB parlors in the state would be eligible for slot machines.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives June 22 passed an amendment that adds Internet gambling to legislation that would permit more slot machines in the state but stopped short of approving tens of thousands of video gaming machines for bars, taverns, and private clubs.

The Internet gambling measure was approved on a 115-80 vote, according to the Associated Press. The overall bill would regulate daily fantasy sports and, if deemed legal under federal law, sports betting.

The revised bill awaits a vote by the House. Lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf have less than seven days to approve a budget for the next fiscal year.

Horseracing industry organizations and casinos opposed the plan to permit VGMs at numerous locations around Pennsylvania. Horsemen noted online casino gambling will divert business from brick-and-mortar casinos and thus reduce the amount of revenue the industry gets for purses and breed development programs from casino-based slot machines.

Under the legislation, slots at OTB parlors—there are geographic limitations—would be limited to 250 per facility, and no revenue would go to horse racing. The tax rate would be 54%, most of which would be sent to the state for budgetary purposes.

About half of the OTB parlors in Pennsylvania have closed over the last 10 years. Parx Racing operates four, Mohegan Sun Pocono three, Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course two, and The Meadows Racetrack and Casino one.