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Pennsylvania Casino and Card Room Gaming

Casino gaming began in Pennsylvania when the Race Horse Development and Gaming Act of 2004 (Act 71) passed, authorizing the creation of 14 slot machine operator licenses across Pennsylvania. The law also established the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) to oversee all aspects of the state's casino industry. In 2010, Pennsylvania expanded into table games.

Racetracks and standalone casinos were allowed 250 gaming tables for a fee of $16.5 million. Resorts (Category 3 licensees) were allowed 50 gaming tables for a licensing fee of $7.5 million. A 16% tax was imposed in the first year, and dropped to 14% in subsequent years. Table game operators were required to pay 2% of their gross table game revenue to their local community. Pennsylvania taxes slot revenue at 54%.

In 2006, the state moved to limit the impact of casino money on politics. In November 2006, it approved a measure that prohibited politicians and their families from having any financial interest in casinos and prohibited state gaming regulators from taking any role in political campaigns. The measure also prohibited political contributions from gambling companies and from some individuals in the gaming industry. In 2007, Peter DePaul sued to overturn the measure, contending it violated his freedom of expression. DePaul was one of the investors behind the Foxwoods Casino project in Philadelphia. In April 2009, the state Supreme Court handed DePaul a temporary victory. It ruled that the measure was unconstitutional based on inconsistencies in state law. The state legislature corrected the inconsistencies, and the ban on political contributions is still in place.

In November 2006, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs became the first casino to open in Pennsylvania.

For the most part, the casino development process in Pennsylvania has been smooth and drama-free. The exception has been the Philadelphia licenses.

Philadelphia Entertainment & Development Partners was awarded a Category 2 license in 2006 and originally planned to open a Foxwoods-branded casino in Philadelphia. However, that casino was never built. On 16 December 2010, the PGCB voted 6-1 to revoke the Foxwoods Casino project's $50 million license. The vote followed numerous problems with the project, including difficulty settling on a location, opposition from local organizations and financing problems. The revocation decision was upheld by the courts in 2012.

SugarHouse was awarded its gaming license in December 2006. Like the Foxwoods Casino proposal, the SugarHouse Casino faced significant community and political opposition, as well as litigation. Despite the political and civic delays, SugarHouse Casino opened in September 2010.

A second Philadelphia license was issued in November 2014 to Live! Hotel and Casino. The Live! group is a partnership between Cordish, which owns and operates Maryland Live!, and Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, which owns the Parx Casino just outside of Philadelphia.

In September 2008, a statewide smoking ban in all public indoor facilities went into effect. An exception was made for some bars, private clubs and casinos. In December 2008, it was reported that slots in smoking sections of Pennsylvania casinos performed better by 60-120%. Under state law, half of Pennsylvania's slot machine casinos are prohibited from serving free alcoholic drinks. The other half may offer one free drink a day.

In November 2013, Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law legislation that allows bars, restaurants and taverns to offer daily drawings, raffles and pull-tab games.

In December 2015, the House of Representatives passed four amendments to a bill that would expand gambling in the state, allowing up to five video gaming terminals (VGTs) in more than 12,000 eligible private clubs, taverns and other venues that hold state liquor licenses, and that would also allow Pennsylvania airports to install interactive games through multi-use computing devices. The bill, however, did not receive a vote from the full House.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, owned by the Mohegan Tribe, operates under a commercial license subject to the same rules and regulations as similar racinos in the state. As a result, Casino City does not consider Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs to be a tribal gaming property.

In May 2017, the state legislature introduced a bill that would ban smoking in casinos that were previously exempt under certain provisions of the 2008 Clean Indoor Air Act.

In October 2017, a major expansion of gambling was authorized. New legislation has provisions for online play for casinos and the states' lottery. Existing operators may bid on licenses for smaller casinos, as well as operate gambling parlors at airports and truck stops.

Total number of casinos stands at 16 with additional proposals under review.

Pennsylvania Casino and Card Room Gaming Properties

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