Caltagirone introduces bill to legalize video gaming

HARRISBURG, June 9 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, today said he has introduced legislation that would create the Pennsylvania Video Gaming Act.


Specifically, H.B. 1182 would legalize video poker for adults 21 and older at establishments that are licensed to sell liquor such as bars, taverns and clubs. Establishments would be permitted to operate up to five video gaming machines and would be subjected to a criminal background check performed by the Pennsylvania State Police before being awarded a license.


"We're staring at a $2 billion budget hole and we're sitting on a potential gold mine," Caltagirone said. "This is a prime time to enact a new revenue source to help spur economic development throughout struggling cities and towns and get our state back on track."


The legislation also would create the Municipal Economic Development Fund. Money within the fund, acquired through video gaming profits, would be distributed by the state Department of Community and Economic Development as grants for local municipalities' economic development projects.


Caltagirone added the funding formula for how video gaming proceeds would be distributed includes 50 percent to the licensed establishment, 20 percent to the licensed operator, 29 percent to the Municipal Economic Development Fund, and 1 percent to the host municipality.


"This bill could provide an additional and needed revenue source for local economic development initiatives, while at the same time licensing a practice that is already going on in taverns and clubs throughout the commonwealth," Caltagirone said.


Under the bill, the state Department of Revenue also would be permitted to allocate at least $500,000 annually from the revenue generated to treat compulsive gambling in Pennsylvania.

The bill is expected to be referred to the House Gaming Oversight Committee for review.