PA Gaming Review: Wall Street Loves Barstool and Penn, Legislators Eye VGT Expansion

Posted on September 30, 2020 - Last Updated on October 24, 2020

Much of the action in Pennsylvania gaming the past week took place in Harrisburg and Manhattan.

For starters, a plan by Gov. Tom Wolf to divert $204 million from the horse racing industry appears to be a scratch this budget year.

But then there’s a plan by a key state senator to raise revenue for PA by widely licensing video gaming terminals, or VGTs, in many locations. Relatedly, the same legislator is proposing licensing and legalization for the devices known as skill games found in many locations outside PA casinos.

Meanwhile, Wall Street loves gaming stocks right now, particularly Penn National Gaming, which raised $982.1 million in the sale of 16.1 million shares of $PENN stock.

And finally, the Pennsylvania Championship of Online Poker‘s big wrapup comes this weekend. Featured is a $200,000 guarantee Main Event.

PA lawmakers say whoa to Wolf

Wolf’s proposed Nellie Bly Scholarships plan appears dead. Under the proposal, 25,000 students attending state universities would have gotten support via the Race Horse Development Fund. Wolf wanted $204 million to fund the endeavor.

Two leading advocates for the horse business, Pete Peterson of the PA Equine Coalition and Todd Mostoller, executive director of the Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Associationtold PlayPennsylvania last week.

And a legislator who had endorsed the proposal, Rep. Carolyn Comitta, said there is no support for using horse racing funds to pay for the scholarships.

Meanwhile, PA horse racing should get a handle boost with Saturday’s Preakness Stakes betting.

Oct. 6 hearing set to consider VGTs and skill games licensing

Senate Bill 1256, pet legislation of Sen. Jake Corman, the Republican majority leader, focuses on expanding video gaming terminals and expressly legalizing games of skill.

The bill, up for a first public hearing, assigns no taxation level to the machines. And it does not state how many devices might be allowed.

All of PA’s casinos and the most prominent skill machine maker, Pace-O-Matic of PA, oppose the bill.

Wall Street loves Barstool Sports

PENN stock is on the rise even as additional shares flooded the market, buoyed by the launch of the Barstool Sportsbook app in PA on Sept. 18.

The early launch numbers provided by Penn last week showed 30,000 iOS app downloads in PA, 12,000 first-time depositors and $11 million in bets over the app’s first four days in operation.

That means it can contend with DraftKings for second in PA sports handle, while FanDuel remains in front.

PACOOP at PokerStars PA coming to a close

PlayPennsylvania has all the details on the remaining events of the PACOOP series at PokerStars PA.

The Main Event beginning Sunday, Oct. 4, will pay out at least $200,000.

Good luck!

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Kevin Shelly Avatar
Written by
Kevin Shelly

Kevin C. Shelly is an award-winning career journalist who has spent most of his career in South Jersey. He's the former assistant city editor of The Press of Atlantic City, where he covered the casino industry and Atlantic City government as a reporter. He was also an investigative, narrative enterprise, and features reporter for Gannett’s Courier-Post.

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