Tavern Owners in Media Rally for Video Gambling

Tavern owners are rallying for in-store video gambling as a means to plug the state budget deficit, but the Senate is concerned about too much gambling. Image via Kathleen Carey, Digital First Media.

With beer and wine sales freely flowing away to grocery and convenience stores, local tavern and restaurant owners are tossing the dice on video gambling revenues to help them survive.

Jack’s Tavern owner and Pennsylvania State Tavern Association delegate Jerry McArdle led a recent rally to legalize video gambling on the Media Courthouse steps, according to a Daily Times report by Kathleen Carey.

The proposed solution, House Bill 271, has stalled in the state Senate after passing the House.

“You have helped out state casino billionaires, you have helped out national grocery store and convenience store chains, you have helped beer distributors,” McArdle said. “It is now time to help your local tavern and restaurant who has always been there for you.”

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McArdle underscored the allure of video gambling as a $300-million to $500-million-a-year solution to the state budget deficit, but senators aren’t buying that argument.

“Our region is saturated with gaming. We cannot allow the (video gaming terminal) conversation to happen under the false promise of fixing the budget,” said Sen. Tom Killion. “We need to have a comprehensive gaming policy debate to determine if further expansion of gaming is the right thing to do.”

Sen. Daylin Leach spokesman Steve Hoenstine agreed, warning that such an expansion of gambling could backfire.

“Gambling is a large source of revenue, but it is not an unending source of revenue. You can only take so much before the industry collapses,” he said.

Read more about the push for video gambling in the Daily Times here.

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