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pennsylvania online gambling $200 million budget

With a whopping $2 billion deficit as a result of Gov. Tom Wolf allowing the state’s underfunded budget of $32 billion to become law without his signature, the state is at risk of having its credit rating downgraded. With so much at stake, the Gov has urged state lawmakers to come together and find a solution to plug the budget gap.

After an intense couple of weeks, the State Senate finally released a budget plan, which, luckily for online gambling proponents, includes a yet-to-be-passed gambling expansion, that they hope will bring in $200 million in new revenue. The Gov, Senate and the House are now under heavy pressure to piece together a package that would certainly include gaming in some shape or form.

As history has proved, anything concerning the legalization of iGaming, especially in the State of Pennsylvania, is never a sure thing, no matter how close the finish line may seem to be. This is no exception. The newly proposed revenue scheme only marginally passed by two votes, 26-24, and now moves to the House for consideration. Bearing in mind that much of the lack-of-progress in the progression of iGaming has come from the House’s strong desires of legalizing Video Gaming Terminals (VGT), which has only served as a roadblock in the Senate, means that there are still plenty of hurdles to overcome. To make matters worse, the House has yet to fully agree on the overall revenue plan, let alone the gambling expansion.

This Sounds Familiar…

If by now some of your bells are ringing, you’d be correct. This case most certainly sounds almost identical to what had happened in 2016 when Wolf agreed on a revenue plan that counted on iGaming to raise $100 million to balance the budget. Lawmakers back then were supposed to pass a gaming package by the fall, but as we know it, that bill never came to fruition.

So what makes this year any different? Apart from the fact that the State’s credit reputation is on the line, online gambling has also had much more exposure since last year and is now far less of an issue than it was back then.

Other Options To Bridge The Gap

Discussions about other ways to make up the deficit include borrowing, raising taxes and selling more wine and liquor licenses.

The tax hike proposal includes raising taxes on cell phone service, home-heating bills, electricity, severance tax, fireworks, and imposition of sales tax (6{c118e36310c7bc75bef8f724f80ee0a52cfaf44be22f7e80906142f4c81518da}) on marketplace providers. This will result in an tax revenue increase of $571,500, which would cost a family of four nearly $180 extra in taxes.

Consequences For Not Balancing Budget

Failure to balance the budget could result in a percentage of government spending being frozen, affecting schools and social service programs. On top of that, around $600 million in state aid to the University of Pittsburgh, Lincoln Universities and the University of Pennsylvania’s veterinary school remains to be addressed.