PA House Approves Airport Gambling Bill

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The Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved a bill that will permit tablet gambling at eight regional and International airports across the state earlier this month.

Should it be adopted by the State Senate and become law, HB 271 would allow existing Pennsylvania casinos to apply for an airport gaming certificate allowing them to install electronic tablet gaming units in certain specified areas of local airports.

The certificates would come with a $1 million licensing fee and the operators would have to pay 14 percent tax on gross airport gaming revenues in addition to 20 percent on gross gaming revenues back to the airports themselves.

The bill does not seek to turn local airports into casinos or common gaming facilities and would limit gambling patrons to those holding valid boarding passes.

According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board there are 10 stand-alone and racetrack casinos and two smaller resort casinos in operation across the state. These gaming operations generate approximately $1.4 billion in tax revenue from slot machine and table games play.

The State House and Senate has been looking several options, including various ways to expand gambling operations inside the state, in order to generate additional tax revenue to help cover a $3 billion budget deficit.

Two bills which would legalize and regulate online gambling in Pennsylvania were introduced to the State House and Senate since earlier this year. SB 477 and HB 392 are identical.

In March, a third piece of iGaming legislation was introduced to the State Senate. SB 524 is similar to the other online gambling bills, although it calls for larger tax rates and licensing fees for operators.

This latest airport tablet gambling bill has been referred to Senate committee where it could be amended to include other forms of gambling expansion, including iGaming, turning it into a comprehensive gambling expansion bill.

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