Pennsylvania Deciding on State’s Poker Future

by , Oct 5, 2009 | 8:44 am

A big poker-related legislative battle is going on right now in Pennsylvania. In fact, state representatives debated the matter well into the night on Sunday — an unusual move for the Pennsylvania House.

At issue is the inclusion of table games — blackjack and poker specifically — in Pennsylvania “slot machine parlors”. Doing so would bring in $242 million … and yesterday’s overtime debate revolved around 170 amendments to the bill.

It’s definitely not all about poker though, or gambling for that matter … Pennsylvania apparently has been at a legislative impasse and operating without a state budget for 97 days!

It does seem, however, that the expanded gambling measure could make or break the budget as a whole.

But opposition isn’t just from the usual hate-gambling suspects … others think the tax they are trying to impose on future card rooms is simply too high:

The legislation would levy a 34 percent state tax, a 1 percent host-county tax and a one-time licensing fee on casinos that choose to offer table games. The fee would range from $7.5 million for resort casinos, which could have up to 75 game tables each, to $20 million for stand-alone casinos, which could have as many as 200.


“Gambling has proven to be a real nice revenue source for Pennsylvania … but it’s not quite the money tree that you all might think it is,” said Rep. John Pallone, D-New Kensington. “It’s a business like any other business, and we can’t overly tax it so bad that gaming will leave the commonwealth and then we’ll have nothing.”

Nearby Atlantic City sees it a bit differently, fearing that if this measure goes through, it will be a huge hit on their economy.

More from a Pennsylvania politics blogger inside the Harrisburg capitol here.

A final vote could come as early as tomorrow, you know, if the debate suddenly gets all efficient and shit.

And even if the bill does get through the House, some are saying it faces likely rejection in the Senate (which is what all the negotiating/bickering/compromise going on now is all about).

Whether or not this measure passes, you can always get nice Pennsylvania poker tables at

One Comment to “Pennsylvania Deciding on State’s Poker Future”

  1. Marvin C

    The real debate is about the tax rate for table games.