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Gambling expansion bill heads to Pennsylvania Senate

By   /   November 14, 2013  /   No Comments

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

After years of effort, a proposal to expand so-called “small games of chance” in bars and taverns across Pennsylvania appears headed for final passage.

BAR MONEY: Pennsylvania bars and taverns will be allowed to conduct small scale gambling under legislation headed to the state Senate for a final vote.

BAR MONEY: Pennsylvania bars and taverns will be allowed to conduct small scale gambling under legislation headed to the state Senate for a final vote.

The state House approved the gambling expansion bill with a vote of 102-96 Wednesday afternoon, sending it back to the state Senate. The Senate previously approved the bill in October, but must agree to minor changes made by the House.

The bill would allow bars to hold raffles and drawings for cash prizes. Such games are currently only allowed in private clubs like Elks lodges, VFW posts and similar institutions.

Republicans say the state could generate as much as $156 million annually from taxes on the newly-legalized forms of gambling, but that’s if as many as 2,000 bars and taverns choose to participate.

“I do think the fact that it had a positive impact on the budget was an additional positive factor,” House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, told WITF’s Mary Wilson.

State Rep. Paul Clymer, R-Bucks, an outspoken critic of legalized gambling in the state, said the bill would not produce the promised revenue and would hurt Pennsylvania families.

Boehm can be reached at Eric@PAIndependent.com and follow @PAIndependent on Twitter for more.

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Eric is a reporter for Watchdog.org and former bureau chief for Pennsylvania Independent. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he enjoys great weather and low taxes while writing about state governments, pensions, labor issues and economic/civil liberty. Previously, he worked for more than three years in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, covering Pennsylvania state politics and occasionally sneaking across the border to Delaware to buy six-packs of beer. He has also lived (in order of desirability) in Brussels, Belgium, Pennsburg, Pa., Fairfield, Conn., and Rochester, N.Y. His work has appeared in Reason Magazine, National Review Online, The Freeman Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Examiner and elsewhere. He received a bachelor's degree from Fairfield University in 2009, but he refuses to hang on his wall until his student loans are fully paid off sometime in the mid-2020s. When he steps away from the computer, he enjoys drinking craft beers in classy bars, cheering for an eclectic mix of favorite sports teams (mostly based in Philadelphia) and traveling to new places.

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