Retired Pennsylvania Official Advocates Casino Legalization In Texas

Written By Corey Sharp on February 6, 2024
Photo showing former Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald for a story about Fitzgerald speaking at a Dallas City Council meeting to discuss the benefits of casino regulation.

Pennsylvania boasts one of the most robust gambling markets in the country. It offers retail casinos, online sports betting and online casinos. Texas, on the other hand, does not have any form of gambling.

Retired Allegheny County Executive, Rich Fitzgerald, attended a Dallas City Council meeting to discuss the pros and cons of adding casinos in the Lone Star State.

The casino industry, including PA online casinos, has been a huge shot in the arm for Pennsylvania, as Fitzgerald alluded to.

Former Allegany County Executive discusses casino regulation at Dallas City Council

Mohegan Pennsylvania was the first gambling facility to open in the Keystone State in November 2006. Since then, Pennsylvania has added 16 more casinos, with four of them opening in 2021 or later. Those include:

  • Live! Casino Philadelphia (January 2021)
  • Hollywood Casino York (August 2021)
  • Hollywood Casino Morgantown (December 2021)
  • Parx Shippensburg (February 2023)

Pennsylvania casinos are not only growing in the number of facilities, but they’re also contributing to record revenue numbers. The state generated $5.7 billion in gambling revenue last year, thanks to $2.5 billion in retail slots and $971.7 million in retail table games. It’s clear the model is working.

According to the Dallas Observer, Fitzgerald spoke of his experience in the Pennsylvania market. He touched on multiple benefits of bringing casinos to the Keystone State:

  • Property tax relief for seniors
  • Creating more jobs
  • Funding public projects
  • Keeping Pennsylvanians from traveling outside the state for entertainment

Fitzgerald told the Dallas Observer:

“Quite frankly, it’s been positive on the economic side. I’m not going to say everything’s been perfect with it, but it’s been a pretty positive experience for us.”

Fitzgerald also noted that crime has not increased because of casinos. Now, many facilities have built hotels to help avoid crime and ensure safety for guests.

Parx Bensalem, the state’s top-grossing casino, has plans to build a 300-room luxury hotel.

Texas could also follow the Keystone State online casino model

Pennsylvania has a lot to offer other states, especially those without any types of gambling. Texas is focusing on legalizing retail casinos as of now, which is probably smart to look at one vertical at a time.

However, the online casino side has proven to be lucrative, too. Pennsylvania online casinos set a record last year, producing $2.1 billion in revenue.

The first order of business for Texas is to form a strong gaming board, which it’ll have to do anyway to regulate retail casinos in the state. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has a terrific reputation for being one of the most thorough committees in the country.

Texas’ gaming board could replicate the PGCB by having the power to issue licenses to gaming companies, testing the games before they come to market and instituting responsible tools for customers.

The board could come together, along with legislators, to create the best tax framework for the state. Pennsylvania online casino taxes look like this:

  • 16% on poker
  • 16% on table games
  • 54% on PA slots

Then, the state can start benefiting from the different operators it allows into the market.

Should Texas become a gaming state, it should replicate what Pennsylvania has in place in all facets of the industry.

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Photo by Keith Srakocic / AP
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Corey Sharp

Corey Sharp is the Lead Writer at PlayPennsylvania bringing you comprehensive coverage of sports betting and gambling in Pennsylvania. Corey is a 4-for-4 Philly sports fan and previously worked as a writer and editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer and NBC Sports Philadelphia.

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