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BREAKING: Pa. House bill would add poker, blackjack for parlors

November 29, 2006

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette has reported today that expected Pennsylvania House Speaker Rep. Bill DeWeese, fresh off of the Democrats’ win of the state House, is drafting a bill that would add blackjack, poker and other casino table games to the state’s proposed and existing slot-machine parlors/casinos.

Slots in Pa., poker to come?Well, that didn’t take long.

We don’t even have licenses yet for the free-standing parlors yet (coming in two weeks), but there are dreams of poker tournaments and roulette binges in the heads of the future owners. BTW, the first slot parlor in the state opened Nov. 12 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

Can I raise my hand to be the first Lancaster New Era poker reporter? And does that coverage go on the sports page? (My qualifications: I know that you always split aces and double down — lessons learned from “Swingers.” Oops, that’s blackjack).

I better start building my home poker table and get practicing.

From the Post-Gazette:

Mr. DeWeese’s chief of staff, Michael Manzo, dismissed suggestions that table games could be more harmful than slot machines.

“There is no practical difference between putting $20 in a slot machine and $20 on a blackjack table,” Manzo said.

Manzo said permitting table games would allow Pennsylvania’s gambling halls to compete better with other states, such as West Virginia, which is considering the same thing. He said allowing table games would generate more money for property tax relief, the reason that slot machines were legalized in the first place.

“It used to be that slots made up 85 percent of (a casino’s) business. But that’s no longer the case,” Mr. Manzo said.

Gambling proponents say games such as poker and blackjack are needed to attract younger, wealthier gamblers.

Rep. Paul Clymer, R-Bucks, said lawmakers should slow down.

“Without even looking at what the casinos do when they go online, we’re ready to push table games,” Clymer said.

This on the heels of Penn National Gaming‘s proposed takeover of Harrah‘s, a giant in the gaming/entertainment industry, making news today. (Link here from CNN Money)

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