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Pennsylvania Bars Move Closer To Regulated Gambling

The state of Pennsylvania is on a roll when it comes to gambling expansion. Already the state has overtaken New Jersey as the second largest gaming market in the US, and now lawmakers have their eyes set on an even bigger prize.

The state Senate passed a bill this week that would authorize bars in Pennsylvania to operate various games of chance in exchange for a piece of the gaming revenue. The Senate passed the bill by a large 39-11 margin.

Already considered one of the top gaming destinations in the world, Pennsylvania is now approaching Nevada in terms of overall gaming options. The move to allow pull tab gambling in bars comes down to dollars and cents for legislators.

"Anytime you are talking about bringing in over $150 million annually, lawmakers will listen," said analyst Steve Rosen. "Pennsylvania has seen what gambling dollars can do for the state's economy, and they know that a large sum of money from new gaming avenues such as pull tabs could be a win-win for residents of the state."

The House, and a large majority of Democratic leaders, however, are unsure such a plan would work. The battle in the state capitol is not over the expansion, but rather where the tax revenue generated from the additional gambling would be distributed. Democrats, and Governor Tom Corbett would like to see the funds funneled into the Pennsylvania Lottery Fund.

Republican leaders have stayed away from earmarking the tax revenue for the fund. Democratic lawmakers believed they had an agreement with Senate Republicans to earmark the funds, but claim that the stipulation was stripped out of the final bill passed in the Senate.

Pennsylvania has one of the most thriving casino industries in the world. First, the state added new casinos several years back. In the time since, lawmakers have authorized table games, which helped Pennsylvania pass New Jersey as the casino gaming capital of the East Coast.

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