Pennsylvania poker?


RIP Brian
Feb 22, 2001

Democrat congressman ready to deal

According to press reports in the Pennsylvania media, there are moves afoot to introduce a Bill in the state legislature that seeks to legalise poker, blackjack and other casino games in the state.

The reports claim that a Democratic congressman, Bill DeWeese is currently drafting a bill that could change existing laws that allow only slot machines in Pennsylvania's gambling halls. State Rep. DeWeese is expected to become speaker of the Democrat-controlled House of Congress in January, lending impetus to the Bill.

Spokesmen for DeWeese said that permitting table games would allow Pennsylvania gambling halls to be competitive with those in other states. The move would also create more money for property tax relief - the initial reason slot machines were legalised in 2004.
Fast rejection!

Looks like Rep DeWeese could have an uphill battle ahead!

Pa. governor vows to reject bill to legalize casino table games

Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Gov. Ed Rendell said that he would reject any legislation seeking to legalize table games before the state has a chance to gauge the success and impact of slot machines.

"We have to make sure that over time, the expansion of gaming is successful, it works well, and whatever negative sides there are to it, that we control them," Rendell told reporters at an unrelated event in the Capitol.

"And until we've had a significant test period to see that in operation, I don't think any of these bills should be considered and I wouldn't sign them," he said.

State Rep. H. William DeWeese has drafted legislation that would legalize table games at the state's gambling halls. Aides to DeWeese, who is expected to become Pennsylvania's new House speaker in January, dismissed suggestions that poker, blackjack and other table games could be more harmful than slot machines.

"There is no practical difference between putting $20 in a slot machine and $20 on a blackjack table," DeWeese's chief of staff, Michael Manzo, told The Philadelphia Inquirer for Wednesday's editions.

Under current law, only slot machines are allowed in Pennsylvania's gambling parlors. The first slots parlor, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, opened Nov. 14, and three others are expected to open in the next three months.

Manzo said permitting table games would allow Pennsylvania's gambling halls to compete better with other gambling states and generate more money for property tax cuts, the reason that slot machines were legalized in the first place.

Still, any table games legislation could have trouble getting to Rendell.

The Senate's new Republican leader, Dominic Pileggi of Delaware County, said he thinks the state needs a couple of years at least to see how its experiment with slots gambling is going.

"I think it's a reasonable position to see how the introduction of expanded slots across Pennsylvania works in practice, what sort of revenues it generates, what sort of problems it creates," said Pileggi, whose district is home to Harrah's Chester Casino and Racetrack.

In addition, House Democrats, who expect to be the new majority party in the House when the new legislative session begins in January, may have trouble rounding up enough votes to legalize table games, said Tom Andrews, an aide to DeWeese. In large part, that is because there are competing ideas of how to expand gambling in Pennsylvania, Andrews said.

"There are people who would like table games. There are people who would like keno. There are people who would like machines at bars and restaurants," Andrews said. "That's where the difficulty lies in doing something more."

No other state has introduced slot machines and then later authorized table games at its gambling halls. Those that allow table games at commercial casinos have done so in lockstep with slot machines.

Gambling proponents say games such as poker and blackjack are needed to attract younger, wealthier gamblers.

Slot machines contributed about 73 percent of the $5 billion that casinos in Atlantic City, N.J., took in last year. In most other states with casinos, the proportion is even higher because the casinos draw a less diverse and affluent crowd.

DeWeese, a Democrat from Greene County, is expected to become speaker because unofficial results completed Tuesday gave his party a 102-101 edge in the House. But Republicans did not immediately concede loss of control.

I could see them keeping blackjack banned, but the least they could do is to allow poker rooms seeing as how it's more of a game of skill than chance.

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