So what’s in the bill?

The Senate is expected to vote on an amended version of Senate Bill 711 tonight, hours after it was approved by a joint conference committee.

So what’s in the bill? Here are some highlights from the eight page summary distributed at the committee.

SB 711 would…

–Set an initial 16 percent tax rate on table games profits. (14% state; 1 % county; 1% municipal.) This would drop down to 12-1-1 after two years.

–Establish at $16.5 million licensing fee for Category 1 and 2 casinos, and a $7.5 million fee for Category 3s.

–Increase the Category 3 slot machine cap from 500 to 600. The measure reopens “the process for the remaining Category 3 license to allow all interested persons to compete.” It would also create a new Cat 3 license in 2017 if all other Cat 3 licenses are awarded and operational by then.

–Casinos would now be allowed to extend unsecured interest-free lines of credit to gamblers, though credit card advances and debit card swipes would be prohibited.

Included in the reform portion:

–New Gaming Control Board members’ outside salaries would be limited to 15% of their annual board salary, with exemptions for pension benefits, family-controlled businesses and “passive or unearned income.”

–The State Police would conduct background checks on future executive directors, directors of Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement, chief counsels or directors of the Office of Enforcement Counsel.

–At least one on-site public hearing would be required before the awarding of a new license or the approval of  a facility redesign.

–Future board employees, independent contractors and Attorney General, Department of Revenue or State Police staffers who deal with casinos would need to sign affidavits promising not to work for applicants or licensees for two years following the termination of their jobs.

The measure transfers $40 million from the Race Horse Development Fund to the General Fund over the next four years, as well as $12 million in unused funds from “law enforcement grant money.” The Gaming Control Board will be appropriated $2.1 million to get table games up and running.

About pubradiopolitics
Scott covers state government and politics for Pennsylvania's public radio stations, including WITF in Harrisburg, WHYY in Philadelphia and WDUQ in Pittsburgh.

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