Gaming expansion gets Pennsylvania House approval

Pennsylvania Gaming Control BoardLeaders of the Pennsylvania Senate  are said to be “cool” to a $31.6 billion spending plan that among other things expands legalized gambling  to the Internet and airports.

The expansion of gambling would open the door to daily fantasy sports, slot machines at OTB parlors and airports and online gambling.

But Gov. Tom Wolf’s reaction to the 132-68 House vote is represented by a big question mark. An Associated Press report says Wolf is not yet certain that the budget will be balanced or that the figure approved by the House is adequate.

The House action won support from House Democratic leaders, putting Wolf in the difficult position of criticizing a plan his “close allies” are backing.

The 5 percent spending increase is being driven by pension obligations, human services and public school aid, as well as an attempt to balance an estimated $1.8 billion deficit.

It would be balanced by higher taxes on tobacco products and the expansion of gambling. But House leaders are staying quiet about the details of their plan to increase taxes on tobacco products. They also aren’t saying where they’ll find money to pay for school construction costs.

Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. Email: 

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