IS PENNSYLVANIAN ONLINE GAMBLING ON AGAIN?
14th October, 2015 at 08:39:12
Resurgence of political interest as state budget deficit rises.
Pennsylvania's $2 billion state budget deficit and the political debate on how to address it has created a resurgence of interest in legalised online gambling after a year of little progress on relevant proposals in the Legislature.
Speaking to Pittsburgh's KDKA-AM television broadcaster this week, Governor Tom Wolf said he would consider a gambling expansion.
"I haven't heard anybody say that that is the end-all be-all to our budget deficit," he said. "I'm open to a conversation on that, and I presume you could design it to bring in some revenues, but not enough to plug a $2 billion deficit."
Wolf favours an increase in taxes to address the deficit, which he is intent on reducing, but there is considerable political pressure against such an unpopular move, and politicians are seeking alternative ways to raise revenues as the state spends more money than it takes in.
State Senate Republicans believe legalised online gambling could bring significant revenues to state coffers, but politicians usually overestimate how much tax revenue can be gleaned from fresh initiatives, and several cautious observers have pointed to the experiences of New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada, where legalisation initiatives have delivered revenues at a slower pace than was anticipated.
The state House has two bills on legalisation apparently stalled at committee stage.
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