Perhaps in reaction to the extremely tough economic environment existing in Pennsylvania the last few years, both houses of the state legislature have recently approved a bill legalizing table games such as blackjack and poker at all casinos in the state. Ed Rendell, the state's governor, signed the bill on January 8th, thereby enshrining its provisions and regulations into the law.
The bill was thought vital by almost all sides, and helped to head off at least 1,000 state worker dismissals, which Rendell said was going to be necessary had the legislature not acted to create the laws needed to legalize most table games. Rendell's signing capped off a hectic legislative session in which the state's leaders were confronted by a myriad of tough economic challenges in a region that's been particularly hard-hit by the current recession.
The state already has slot machine casinos. They are now allowed to expand their own operations into table game activities and which are expected to begin such gaming in about six months. Table games will include Poker, Blackjack, Roulette, Craps and more. It is expected that at least $200 million in licensing fees will pour into state coffers in the very near future, with the promise of greatly-increased revenue by 2012, with some estimates projecting nearly a billion dollars by that year.
Pennsylvania's actions are sure to put further pressure on neighboring states to expand or create their own gaming activities, which once were the sole province of casinos in Nevada. Today, states are allowing casinos and other gambling entities at a near-record pace, which is also most likely in reaction to what many economists are calling the worst recession since the Great Depression. Taxes, licensing and fees on so-called 'sinful' activities are seen as a relatively pain-free way to bring in additional revenue rather than directly raising taxes, which many politicians today are extremely hesitant to do.