The battle over gaming in Pennsylvania is nearing a close, with casino advocates facing down operators and others in favor of video gaming terminals (VGTs). According to Lou Larson, V.P. of Gaming Relations at Universal Gaming Group, Pa., the legislature is nearing a final decision on the budget, but the inclusion of law allowing the operation of VGTs is unsure.
“The casino industry, through an outfit called Pennsylvanians for Responsible Government (funded by Sands), is pouring anti-VGT information into the print and TV media,” Larson said. “Meanwhile the vendors, tavern association, clubs, and local governments are pounding the phones in favor of VGTs.
“The lobbying firm of Milliron / Goodman is in constant meetings with legislators showing the attributes of our proposals. In my years in the industry, I’ve never witnessed the cooperation between all the pro VGT lobbyists representing the different industries,” said Lou.
For proponents of VGTs, it’s a simple way to kick-start the state’s economy and get money back in businesses’ hands. However, the fight has been hard and proponents are up against big money.
“Our industry is still fighting, but the casinos seem to be getting their views in front of the legislature with massive pressure not to legalize operator based VGTs for liquor licensed establishments,” Larson declared.
Heavy lobbying from existing casinos in the state may have turned the Senate’s back on the gaming expansion bill proposed and passed by the House earlier this year. That plan allowed for the installation of some 40,000 VGTs in bars, airports and other public places. According to Larson, and this article from the news outlet City and State Pa., lobbying may have swayed the Senate to consider online gambling as a cure to the state’s woes, instead of VGTs.