This past week, Senate lawmakers rejected the revenue pack proposed by the House by a vote of 43-7. The move wasn’t much of a surprise. After all, many predicted the Senate would laugh the proposal out of the state capitol.
Penn Live’s article about the Senate’s decision summarized the situation well.
“The Pennsylvania Senate officially stuck a fork in the state House Republicans’ $2.3 billion revenue package,” reporter Charles Thompson wrote.
The issue: one-time payments
House lawmakers had to formulate a revenue plan that would fund the state’s budget. Currently it is a budget that includes more than $200 million of revenue from an expanded gaming bill that has not passed yet.
Under the gun and searching for answers, the House proposed a revenue package. Its plan included pulling money from various areas within the state. The proposed solution was a one-time way to move the budget through.
The Senate, as it was expected to, voted against the proposal.
At this point, there’s little hope that an expedient solution will come about. Because of that lack of expediency, there’s a growing suspicion among experts that this year’s version of gambling expansion will sulk back into the shadows until the fall session.
The good news: gambling bill isn’t dead
There is certainly a chance that this year’s version of gambling expansion will recede into the shadows in which the 2016 bill disappeared. Nonetheless, there is hope in the industry that lawmakers from both the House and Senate will approve the bill as they work together for a budget revenue solution.
It’s hard to believe that either side would outright reject a gambling bill that would bring in considerable revenue — $225 million, to be exact.
The key is how much both sides will compromise. The Senate has been clear that they won’t accept a gambling bill that includes video gaming terminals (VGT) and satellite casinos.
Both of those aspects have their pros and cons. VGT’s will bring in revenue but they’ll also cut into profits for Pennsylvania’s 12 casinos.
Satellite casinos will bring in additional revenue for their motherships. However, there’s been resistance from local communities where these smaller casinos would go.
Gambling bill aside, there is evidence that lawmakers are working behind the scenes to come up with a compromise for the revenue package. Stay tuned.