The law that prohibited casino operators and employees in Pennsylvania to contribute to political campaigns has been officially lifted. In a state, where the commercial casino revenue is second only to Nevada’s, the move gives the gambling industry a lot of political influence and lobbying power.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Sylvia Rambo struck the provision down, deeming it unconstitutional. According to her, the ban expanded to include a too broad category of individuals and companies. As per law provisions, casino owners, as well as anyone with a stake in gambling businesses, are prohibited to make donations to political campaigns. This includes even individuals who are only slightly associated with the casino industry and prominent casino employees such as managers and directors.
Moreover, the law banned even insignificant cash contributions of $1, for instance.
Initially, the purpose of the legislation was to eliminate corruption and reduce the influence of the gambling industry in political decisions. In her opinion, however, Judge Rambo points out that in its current form, the ban exceeds the necessary scope of the original idea and that it acts as an overall prohibition of campaign contributions. It should, instead, has a clearer and narrower definition of the people who should be banned from donating to political campaigns.
The provision has been struck down temporarily once in the past, but except for this limited period of time, it has been in effect since 2004. This was the time when Pennsylvania legalized commercial casinos and the ban was seen as a tool to restrain the gambling industry’s influence over legislators and politicians. The matter is of a particular importance, considering the size of the casino industry in the state nowadays.
Pennsylvania is home to 12 operating casinos and another one, which is currently under construction. The industry has generated $3.2 billion in gross gaming revenue in 2017, $1.4 billion of which was contributed to the state as taxes, according to data released last month by the American Gaming Association. The figures clearly show that Pennsylvania has become the second biggest state for gambling after Nevada where the industry reported nearly $11.6 billion in annual GGR for the last fiscal year.
Pennsylvania Casino Revenue Rises 3% in August
Last month, the casino sector in Pennsylvania posted increased revenues compared to the same period in 2017. Slot machine revenue grew 4.42 percent to $201.7 million and although there was a slight decline in table game earnings, down 1.33 percent to $73.3 million, the total gaming revenue was up for the month. In August, the gross gaming revenue generated from the state’s 12 casinos was a little more than $275 million, a rise of 2.82 percent from August 2017.
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According to the latest figures, released this week by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, seven casinos across the state saw gains year-on-year. Several facilities posted significant growth last month, including Parx Casino (up 8.51%), Rivers Casino (up 8.16%), Valley Forge Casino Resort (up 6.93%), SugarHouse Casino (up 6.86%), and Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course (up 6.28%).