Legalization of Video Gaming Terminals Makes Strong Case Before House Gaming Oversight Committee in Support of House Bill 271
The legalization of video gaming terminals (VGTs) would increase state and local tax revenue, while bringing regulation and oversight to the thousands of illegal VGTs that currently exist through the Commonwealth.
HARRISBURG—The House Gaming Oversight Committee convened Monday to receive testimony on the legalization of video gaming terminals (VGTs) in liquor licensed locations in Pennsylvania. House Bill 271, which proposes the same operator-based model that was successfully implemented in Illinois in 2012, and generated over $1 billion in total revenue in 2016 without the participation of the City of Chicago, stands to have a profound economic impact on the Commonwealth.
Rich Teitelbaum, President of the Pennsylvania Video Gaming Association (PAVGA) and owner of Lendell Vending of Garnet Valley and Paul T. Jenson of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, spoke out in strong support of HB 1010. They emphasized the significant tax revenue it would deliver to all 67 counties as well as the financial opportunity it would provide to amusement operators, bars, restaurants and veteran organizations that are struggling to stay in business.
“The changes in business regulations, smoking laws and liquor taxes in some municipalities have really hampered the profitability for liquor licensed locations,” explained Teitelbaum. “These small businesses bring in millions in tax revenue for Pennsylvania, but they need help. It is in Pennsylvania’s best interest to diversify its gaming portfolio to insure its long-term viability.”Also speaking out in support of the legalization of VGTs was Eric Schippers, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Government Relations for Penn National Gaming. Schippers stressed the importance of casinos protecting their existing investment in Pennsylvania by embracing the diversification of gaming. He believes HB 271 strikes a good balance between mitigating the impact to casinos while bringing new, substantial revenue to the Commonwealth.
It was strongly emphasized that HB 27 will put an end to the thousands of illegal VGTs that currently exist throughout Pennsylvania, bringing complete transparency and accountability to the industry. The bill outlines strict oversight and strong regulations from the Gaming Control Board and dedicates funding to help problem gaming.
“This is not an issue of allowing VGTs to enter Pennsylvania; they are already here, being illegally operated with zero oversight or accountability,” adds Jenson. “This is an issue of taking control, implementing complete accountability, and ensuring state and local government receives its fair share.”
The prime sponsors of HB 271 are Representatives Mark Mustio (R-Allegheny) and Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster) along with 46 co-sponsors.
About PAVGA: The Pennsylvania Video Gaming Association (PAVGA) was established for the purpose of creating a Pennsylvania operator-based video gaming law that will grow small businesses and bring critically needed revenue to the Commonwealth. Two firms represent the lobbying, legislative and legal efforts of PAVGA: Andy Goodman of Milliron Goodman Government Relations, LLC (Harrisburg, PA) and Paul Jenson of Taft, Stettinius & Hollister, LLP (Chicago, IL). More information about PAVGA can be found at www.PAVGA.org.
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