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Penn National Speaks Out Against Potential Pennsylvania Gaming Expansion

In the wake of the havoc wreaked by COVID-19, Penn National Gaming has voiced its hopes that Pennsylvania will not expand its gaming market. 

The possibility of allowing video gaming terminals (VGTs) to be allowed beyond their current range of truck stops has been discussed, amongst other things. 

However, the operator has argued that further expanding the Keystone State’s gaming market will result in “cannibalization”. 

Tax revenue from gambling has dropped over the last months, despite online gaming continuing to perform well, due to the closure of all land-based casino venues. 

“Pennsylvania is beyond the point of saturation from a gaming perspective”

Penn National Gaming SVP of Public Affairs and Government Relations Eric Schippers spoke to on Wednesday. He argued that there simply isn’t enough space for regulations to be expanded further than they already are. 

Both online and land-based casino gaming and sports betting are permitted, as is poker. In addition to these, other forms of gambling – such as the VGTs mentioned earlier – are legal. 

Schippers said the following. 

“We are firmly against any further gaming expansion in Pennsylvania. 

The Legislature is once again rushing to consider a bill that will severely cannibalize existing operators and the jobs they support. Pennsylvania is beyond the point of saturation from a gaming perspective.”

What else might be introduced? 

Along with the expansion of VGTs, the possibility of legalizing skilled gaming terminals has also been discussed. With a stake cap of $5, this form of slot machine could be introduced to venues such as bars and restaurants. 

At the moment, Pennsylvania neither taxes nor regulates skilled gaming terminals. Thus, they could provide a tax boost for the state and additional revenue for casinos – even if this is small on both fronts. 

Senator Jake Corman (R-Center) is one of the lawmakers considering the further expansion of Pennsylvania’s gaming market. He said the following.

“They’re [skilled gaming terminals] completely unregulated and completely unsupervised. We’re trying to bring in gaming to the light of day that’s going on unregulated.” 

Penn National Gaming stocks fall 

On Wednesday morning, Penn National Gaming shares dropped by 9.4%. This was due to rising coronavirus cases leading to government officials warning that a slower approach to reopening places may need to be adopted. This included casinos. 

This followed the company’s stock rising on Tuesday, after it had announced plans to welcome back customers at its currently-closed casinos in the weeks ahead. At the moment, Penn National has reopened 30 of its 41 casinos across the US. 

Pennsylvania casino closures lead to improved online gaming operator performances

Casinos in the northeastern state were ordered to close in March as attempts to slow the spread of COVID-19 were made. This, coupled with a near-shutdown of the global sporting calendar, led to many players venturing into the worlds of online casino and poker. 

Operator winnings in May 2020 reached $55.8 million, which was an all-time high. This figure included online casino, slots and poker and was higher than April’s total of $43 billion. 

Over the course of last month, Pennsylvanian operators generated almost $24 million’s worth of state and local tax revenue. 

Last month also saw DraftKings launch its standalone casino mobile app in Pennsylvania, which it has since also expanded into New Jersey.

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