HARRISBURG – Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23) blasted operators from the Pennsylvania casino industry for their remarks made yesterday during a Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee public hearing on gaming in the Commonwealth.
The hearing, the first of two set to focus on the issue, included a panel of representatives from Parx Casino, The Cordish Companies, and PENN Entertainment. Yaw’s criticism came after one panelist described the growing popularity of games of skill, which help support small businesses, fraternal clubs, veterans’ organizations, and taverns, as an “infestation.”
“Many of these games are made in my district and several hundred people work in that industry,” Sen. Yaw said. “I don’t consider my constituents as being part of an infestation. That’s insulting to them and its insulting to me.”
During their testimony, representatives from the casino industry claimed skill games impact their revenue. In reality, the lottery has hit record profits of more than $1 billion for 11 consecutive years. In August 2023, the Pennsylvania casino industry set a monthly record by earning over $400 million.
“The casino industry has been the biggest display of corporate greed that I have seen in my time in the Senate,” Yaw continued. “I walk into a casino, and I see hundreds of slot machines and table games. Then, I look at the VFW or a mom and pop grocery store with two or three machines and I just don’t see competition. I don’t have a problem with casinos making money. I do have a problem with the greed involved.”
Yaw asked the panel if they had read Senate Bill 706, legislation he sponsored to establish a regulatory framework and taxing structure on skill video games in the Commonwealth. Under the proposed measure, all games will be required to be connected to a terminal collection and control system that allows the Commonwealth to monitor all transactions and ensure that all taxes are accrued and paid. Additionally, the legislation will strengthen penalties for those who operate unlicensed and illegal games and gambling devices. It also includes a valid ID requirement to play and a limit on the number of machines per establishment.
“The focus of my legislation is taxing and regulating,” Yaw told the panel. “It seems to me that would be something the casino industry would be in favor of. My legislation would prevent everything they complain about.”
“It is clear to me that the false premise promoted by casinos assumes every skill game player is also a potential casino game player,” Yaw said following the hearing. “That is simply not true.”
On Wednesday, October 4, the committee will hold its second hearing on gaming in the Commonwealth which will include representatives from the skill game industry and several of the small businesses it supports.
For more state-related news and information, constituents can visit Senator Yaw’s website at www.SenatorGeneYaw.com or follow him on Facebook and Twitter @SenatorGeneYaw.