A move to legalize video poker in Pennsylvania and make it available to bars, social clubs, truck stops and nonprofit groups is gearing up again. Last year the Pennsylvania Video Gaming Association was established to lobby for legalization -- a campaign likely to meet significant resistance from the casino lobby.
The association believes video poker in bars and clubs could bring in $300 million in new revenue for the state. Several legislators, including state Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Lehigh/Northampton, say it would be better to regulate and tax video poker than to continue a cat-and-mouse game between authorities and scofflaws. It's illegal for an entity other than casinos to operate poker machines, if they pay out to winners.
The Legislature, which approved the placement of slot machines in airport lounges last year, is also entertaining proposals to legalize online gaming.
A few years ago Pennsylvania legalized small games of chance for bars, clubs and nonprofits -- pull-tabs, raffles, drawings and the like. The response wasunderwhelming, mostly because the fees and record-keeping required by the state. And those games don't have the money-making appeal of video poker. The prosecution of officers of the Easton Fleas Club several years ago showed how lucrative poker machines can be. State police said the club took in an estimated $100 million in video poker revenue over 10 years.
Should video poker be permitted in private clubs, bars and nonprofit beneficiaries, such as fire departments? Have a say in our informal poll, and feel free to join the conversation in the comments section.