Just as Pennsylvania’s casinos were beginning to recover from the devastating financial impacts of the COVID-19 shutdowns, legislation was once again poised to move that would allow up to 80,000 slot machines to be placed in bars, restaurants, convenience stores and other venues across the Commonwealth. Powerful out-of-state interests were lining up support for so-called “distributed gaming”, which would cripple the state’s successful gaming industry and imperil the $2 billion in tax revenue created by the state’s casinos. Perhaps worse, distributed gaming would have a further negative effect on the PA Lottery and the programs it supports for our seniors.
Based upon the experiences in Illinois, where distributed gaming is legal, the casino industry suffered a 20% decline in revenue, which costs the state of Illinois millions of dollars in lost tax revenue. Distributed gaming supporters also conveniently ignore the social costs of massive gaming expansions, where the machines are not well-regulated and easily accessible to children and people with gambling problems. Perhaps worst of all, these neighborhood slot machines tend to be placed in poorer communities and communities of color and not in more affluent areas.
Working with our industry partners, Triad Strategies was successful in beating back this ill-conceived effort to bring slot machines to every Pennsylvania street corner, thereby protecting the PA Lottery, the taxpayers, the 20,000 Pennsylvanians who proudly work in the casino industry and the hundreds of vendors who do business with Pennsylvania casinos every day.