Monday, September 14, 2009

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell Says He'll Sign Off On Budget That Includes Table Games

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Up until Saturday, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell has said that he didn't want table games added to the slot parlors until all of the 14 approved slot parlors were up and running.

The large projected state budget deficits may have changed his mind. Gov. Rendell said at a news conference on budget Saturday that "economic exigencies facing the state make a bill to expand to table games seemingly unavoidable."

"I'm not a huge fan of table games but I would sign it," Rendell said.

Nine of the 14 approved slot parlors are operating. Two of the larger proposed slot parlors that will be located in the city of Philadelphia have not yet been built.

The state legislature in their attempts to put a budget proposal together are projecting revenue from table games in the current fiscal year, figures that Rendell say are too optimistic.

The tax rate on table games is a matter of controversy. Currently, a 12 percent and 21 percent figure have been floating around. Slot machine revenues are now taxed at about 55 percent. It takes more staff to operate table games and it will take more state regulators to monitor the games than it does for slot machines. Other gaming issues are also a matter of contention in the legislature, such as the investigatory authority now held by the state's gaming commission. The state gaming commission, known as the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, acknowledged that it would take time to train new staff should table games be permitted.

One of the table games bills in discussion forecasts $200 - $300 million a year in state revenue generated from table games, with a tax rate of 21 percent along with a $10 million initial license fee.

The manager of Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, Bobby Soper, told the Standard Speaker media outlet that "Mohegan would initially rearrange its existing facility to add tables, potentially cutting down the number of slot machines on site."