Pa. lawmakers discuss new gambling options

The Pennsylvania Lottery laid out its long-term plan to the Senate Finance Committee, and it includes adding monitor games like Keno.

“This seems like a responsible, acceptable, publicly reasonable way of gaining $10, $50, $100 million in added revenues for older Pennsylvanians,” said Secretary of Revenue Dan Meuser.

Keno is a monitor game, kind of like bingo, that could be played in restaurants and bars. Drawings could happen every four minutes, up to 80 times a day. The Pennsylvania Lottery says if it gets approval, they would be ready to roll out Keno by the end of the year.

“The first year, the idea is to bring on 1,000 retailers, 500 are already lottery retailers, and 500 additional retailers each year after that. In the end it could yield $40 million in incremental increases a year,” said Meuser.

Proponents say the expansion would help increase lottery funds to continue to help seniors.

“Increasing the flexibility of the state lottery to increase its revenues is one way to fund the increasing load of senior services; our other way is raising taxes. So people that desire us not to move forward in this direction, I will be looking forward to their recommendations on where those additional revenues are going to come from to fund senior services,” said Senator Mike Brubaker, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

There are also concerns about expanding the lottery.

“We are obviously going to be very vigilant in respect to the legal trail, and we are also going to be vigilant in respect to the manner in which any expansion of gaming occurs. Can we make sure we are doing this in a manner that is not dangerous in respect to the addictive conduct out there? So we have to do this very carefully and deliberately, ” said Senator John Blake, Minority Chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

The Senate Finance Committee is also looking at online gambling. A study is underway to see how it would affect local casino and state tax collection. The report is due in May.

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