[toc]The American Gaming Association was in Philadelphia last Thursday at the SugarHouse Casino as part of its national “Get to Know Gaming” tour.
The lobbying group’s meeting with policymakers, casino executives, and local business groups came just days after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down a local casino tax that could provide a boost to the state’s online casino prospects.
What the AGA said about the Keystone State
According to a report from the Delaware County Daily Times, AGA CEO Geoff Freeman touted the benefits that casino gambling has brought to the state.
The AGA said that casino gambling generates $6 billion in economic activity a year (about $3 billion is from casino win). The 12 casinos support 34,000 jobs and generate $2.4 billion in federal, state and local taxes.
Slot machines in the state are taxed at a 54 percent rate, while table games have a 16 percent tax.
If you exclude tribal gaming, Pennsylvania is the second largest casino market outside of Nevada.
“This industry has delivered to Pennsylvania and it has delivered to local communities,” Freeman said. “Our commitment to these communities has never been stronger.”
Freeman sees fix to tax law
With some communities set to miss out on $10 million a year in much-needed slot tax revenue, the legislature is expected to revise the law quickly. Doing so will open the door for online gaming to be more seriously considered by Senate lawmakers.
“We’re confident that the legislature will address this [tax] issue,” Freeman said at the roundtable meeting.
The court gave lawmakers 120 days to fix the tax code.
In the meantime, casinos are meeting with their local officials to see how the situation can be fixed, according to Freeman.
AGA continues sports betting push
Arguably, the top priority for the AGA currently is to convince the federal government to reform its antiquated law on sports betting.
Freeman reiterated the need to revisit the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992.
While neighboring New Jersey continues to seek a resolution through the courts, Pennsylvania is more in line with the AGA’s vision.
In February, the Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee passed a resolution that called for the feds to repeal PASPA.
That move indicated that Pennsylvania wants to let its casinos run sportsbooks if, or when, the federal government repeals or changes the law.
New Pennsylvania gambling regulator
Also on Thursday, Governor Tom Wolf made a new appointment to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
Ahmeenah Young, who has served as the president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority, is the newest state gambling regulator.
“Ahmeenah’s business acumen, vast experience, and commitment to serving her community make her a natural fit for the Gaming Control Board,” Wolf said in a statement. “I am confident that she will serve the people of Pennsylvania with integrity and honesty.”
According to Philly.com, she is replacing Commissioner David Woods, who joined the seven-member Board under Governor Tom Corbett. His three-year term is set to expire.
A regulator on the panel makes $145,000 a year. They meet once a month.