I am a veteran. I appreciate and rely upon the services offered to me through local veterans organizations, as do hundreds of thousands of veterans across the commonwealth.
As junior vice commander of VFW Post 191 in Canonsburg, I see firsthand how these organizations are struggling to keep their doors open. Despite financial hardships, these organizations remain vibrant partners in the community. They support our Little League teams and community events.
Fraternal organizations, like VFWs, as well as other small businesses are crying out for a new revenue opportunity, which has been denied to them for far too long. Worse yet, I’ve watched our state legislators, including state Sen. Camera Bartolotta, choose to give big business the opportunity for more and more revenue.
Right now, the Senate has the power to vote to legalize video gaming terminals (VGTs) in locations with liquor licenses. This has the potential to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue while giving small businesses and fraternal organizations the chance to thrive.
I am curious as to why Bartolotta is standing in support of casinos, and not small organizations, on this issue. She has chosen one industry over another, which is contrary to core Republican principles. Not only am I disheartened by her betrayal of small businesses, particularly veterans organizations, but I am also concerned about her motives when she aligns herself with these billion-dollar casinos.
I hope Bartolotta rethinks her support on this issue. We shouldn’t be fooled by the smoke and mirrors of casinos. Look to the facts. Our patrons are different than casino patrons. Illegal terminals already exist, and we need to do something to level the playing field for small-business owners and fraternal organizations.
It is morally and fiscally irresponsible to deny Pennsylvania, its local governments, small businesses and communities the valuable opportunity to grow revenue.
Barry L. Andrews
Andrews is the president of the Washington-Greene Central Labor Council and junior vice commander for Canonsburg VFW Post 191.