Thursday May 12,2016 : PENNSYLVANIA LAND CASINO OPERATORS WANT IN ON INTERNET GAMBLING (Update)
State legalization road show visits Valley Forge Casino Resort.
Amidst the clash and clamour in the United States of DFS, eSports, sports betting and online poker legalization, the politicians in Pennsylvania quietly and methodically went about their intrastate online gambling legalization project this week, with the House Gaming Oversight Committee travelling to Valley Forge Casino Resort to hear the views of interested parties.
On Wednesday they were told by land casino operators that if intrastate online gambling legalization is on the cards, the bricks and mortar operators expect to be involved in offering the new channel.
Representatives pointed out that land casinos are major employers in the state and have contributed billions of dollars in capital projects and taxes; they should therefore be permitted to lead any new gambling channel that evolves from legislative moves.
."We'd just like to make sure the casino industry is allowed to participate and at least play by the same set of rules," said Donn Mitchell, chief administrator of Isle of Capri Casinos.
Members of the committee were also interested in opinions on proposals to allow slots terminals in taverns, social clubs and off-track-betting parlours, and the state is among several considering whether to regulate daily fantasy sports websites.
The committee is scheduled to continue its "roadshow" hearing later this week at Parx Casino near Philadelphia.
Committee chairman John Payne told casino operators that with a 54 percent stake in gaming revenue, Pennsylvania has an interest in the casinos' success in an environment where competition from neighbouring states was growing.
"Many people think: ‘We ate Atlantic City's lunch, it's all over,'" Payne said. "Well trust me, Atlantic City's not going to just take this.”
Operator spokesmen said they see opportunity in being able to licence online gaming and fantasy sports, but they were adamant that expanding slots to other land venues could cripple their business.
"Our customers go where it is easiest for them to get the gaming product that they're looking for," one said. Another commented that slots in off-track facilities may be acceptable provided these are not permitted within 50 miles of a casino.
But all were opposed to slots in bars.
Operators used the opportunity to complain about recently announced increases in regulatory fees and a proposal to tax the free slots play casinos offer to attract visitors.
They also asked lawmakers to remove a requirement, specific to resort casinos, that customers spend at least $10 on site to be eligible to gamble. That set-up was drafted with good intentions, they said, but has resulted in logistical nightmares and angry customers who don't return.