PA House rejects expanded gambling amendment

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HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – With just over a week until the state budget deadline, lawmakers remain in Harrisburg trying to come to an agreement on a 2016-2017 spending plan.

One of the big issues they are looking at this year includes expanding gambling.

Plans for expanded gaming were dealt a big blow just before 6:00 PM Wednesday. Lawmakers in the PA House voted 116-79 to reject an expanded gambling amendment.

Some of the different things that were being talked about included possibly allowing internet-based gaming to even putting slot machines in airports.

Another element could be allowing thousands of VFWs, American Legions and social halls to have slots-like terminals.

A group of lawmakers had been looking to allow up to five slots-like terminals in bars, private clubs and even bowling alleys that currently have a liquor license.

“It’s okay because a lot of people like to gamble and you know, as long as they have regulations on them,” Barbara Shufeldt of Scranton said.

The proposal that was on the table would have had the games regulated by the Gaming Control Board and each would be linked into the PA Department of Revenue’s computer system.

A total of 36-percent of the machine’s winnings would go to the state in taxes.

Veteran Rich Burns of Moscow is split on the idea, thinking some seniors could get hurt.

“It’s like smoking. The more you drink, the more you smoke. The more you drink, the more you’re going to gamble. They’re going to go home with empty pockets,” Rich Burns said.

Immediately after the vote Wednesday evening, lawmakers from both the republican and democratic parties decided to hold an immediate caucus. They were expected to return to session at 6:30 PM.

Exactly what the defeat means and if anything can be salvaged to help the state budget process is still undetermined at this hour.

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