Monday May 25,2015 : PENNSYLVANIA TRACK OWNERS SUPPORTIVE OF LEGALISED ONLINE GAMBLING
Lawmakers hear from more state land gambling execs.
Rep. John Payne's House Gaming Oversight committee continued its road trip style investigations last week, stopping at the Meadows Racetrack and Casino, where owner Bill Paulos and vice president and general manager Sean Sullivan, along with other industry executives, gave their views on internet gambling legalization and the competitive challenges facing state businesses.
“This is a great opportunity for us to get out in the field. I’d rather get out and talk directly to the customer, instead of sitting in Harrisburg inside the white marble walls,” said Payne.
Rep. Payne's recent legislative proposal to regulate and licence online gambling through the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board was discussed, with Sullivan commenting: “We support what the best interests are for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and its needs for increased revenues…as long as it’s reasonable.”
He went on to propose that the state consider any upfront fee as advanced payment toward taxes, and suggested a 10 percent revenue tax, and that any legalised online gambling regime should include all casino games.
Outlining the problems faced by land casinos, Sullivan said that attendance and revenues are down 17 percent and 16 percent, respectively, since video gaming terminals made an appearance in the state in 2012; it is believed that around 40,000 are currently in operation.
In addition, Meadows slot and table game revenues, both in-state and out-of-state, have suffered declines attributable to the opening of Ohio casinos, and West Virginia casinos also have had an impact, he revealed.
Other land gambling issues raised in testimony to the committee included an appeal for 24-hour casino alcohol service; a reduction in the number of days harness racing is offered from 208 days to 148 days, which will result in an increase in larger daily purses from $130,000 to $183,000; and a recommendation that the state simplify a vendor approval process in order to enable more small businesses the opportunity to work with the casinos.
Mike Keelon, director of compliance at The Meadows, complained that it currently takes four weeks for a newly hired employee to complete all necessary licensing, and said employees shouldn’t have to wait that long.
Paulos supported his claim, advising that his casino lose 10 to 20 percent of the employees to which it offers jobs because they can’t wait that long for licensing.