Sunday, November 29, 2015

Rendell signs table games bill "with reservations"

Gov. Rendell today signed a bill legalizing table games in Pennsylvania's casinos.

Rendell signs table games bill "with reservations"


Gov. Rendell today signed a bill legalizing table games in Pennsylvania's casinos.

But he said he has "reservations" about the bill which is designed to pump $250 million into state coffers to close a budget gap.

"I signed this bill despite the misgivings I have about it," said Rendell at an early afternoon news conference, shortly after signing the bill in private. "I have serious misgivings about sin taxes as a way to go. There is no sense of celebration."

Rendell had proposed raising the personal income tax to address record revenue shortfalls, but that plan was rejected by the legislature.

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He said he would have liked to see the state's 14 licensed casinos -- including two in Philadelphia --opened before any expansion of gambling.

Rendell also criticized the bill "pork laden" because of provisions that fund specific entities, such as hospitals and schools, in certain legislators' districts. And, he said, he took exception at the language that preempts Philadelphia's indoor smoking ban at casinos.

"I don't think its an improvement to take away Philadelphia's right to set its own rules on smoking," Rendell said. "That part of the bill bothers me."

However, he said, the bill will "produce a balanced budget," saving 1,000 state jobs that were on the line and averting other government cuts.

Table games are expected to be installed and operating at existing slots parlors as early as July, Rendell said. 

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Commonwealth Confidential gives you regularly updated coverage of the state legislature, the governor and the workings of the state bureaucracy. It is written by Angela Couloumbis in the Inquirer's Harrisburg bureau, based in the statehouse, and by the newspaper's far-flung campaign reporters.

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