Poker proposal is on the table

    Pennsylvania lawmakers will get their first crack at a controversial bill to legalize video poker during a House committee hearing today.

    Pennsylvania lawmakers will get their first crack at a controversial bill to legalize video poker during a House committee hearing today.The legislation was formally introduced earlier this week.

    Listen:
    [audio: 090423sdpoker.mp3]

    Among other things, the 28-page bill changes the name from “video poker machines” to “video lottery machines.”

    Sponsor Dante Santoni, a Berks County Democrat, says the machines’ manufacturers insist that’s a more accurate term, though political observers argue the shift has more to do with the politics of whether the legislation is an expansion of gaming.

    The bill authorizes 25 million dollars in General Fund expenditures to get the network off the ground.

    Lehigh County Republican Doug Reichley says the cost can’t be justified in a tight budget year.

    Reichley: Do you want to turn to the families that were planning on vacationing in state parks that don’t have a lifeguard to watch the lakes where their kids are going to play? Do you want to tell that to the agencies that are trying to provide more services to children in underprivileged neighborhoods that somehow the 25 million dollars is going to be used to start up the video lottery system?

    Santoni says the 25 million dollars is a loan, and will be returned to the fund when the gaming network starts turning a profit.

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