Sands Casino Resort Spends Money Like Water on Fight Against VGTs Legislation

After the $1.3 billion sale of Sands Casino Resort laid an egg because of the possibility for Pennsylvania to allow placing Video Gaming Terminals (VGTs) in bars, the company launches a million-dollar ad campaign, proclaiming against the introduction of “tavern” gambling.

It was reported that the sale of Sands Casino Resort crashed because of the imminent threat from a bill, expected to be introduced in the State House. The main purpose of the bill is to allow VGTs to be placed in public non-gaming facilities such as bars, clubs and others.

This ruffled the casino managers’ feathers and they invested heavily in an advertisement campaign which fights the bill and it will be broadcast on TVs, radios, markets and etc. Mike Barley, the group’s spokesman explained that the legislation of the VGTs in public places will put the land-based casino industry at stake.

Furthermore, he commented that these gambling terminals operate by themselves, which means that many people, who work in the casino industry will, most probably, lose their jobs. The state will also make a bad hit, because it will lose around $1.4 billion in tax revenues.

This bill is expected to be the Apple of Discord between the brick-and-mortar casino operators, who are struggling to keep their monopoly over the slot machines, and the Pennsylvania Tavern Association, which sees the placing of VGTs as a great opportunity for development of the business.

Rep. Mark Mustio, the main proponent and sponsor of the bill explained that the legislation of the VGTs will support the local business and contribute to the increase of the state budget. He explained that the advertisement campaign is only a bluff by the casino, aiming to create unnecessary panic. He added that the main purpose of this bill is not to affect the casino industry in any way, but to tax the illegally operating VGTs.

Even if the bill hides no bad intentions to the casino industry, Sands Casino Resort already “suffers” some consequences. It became clear that the casino resort had an “imminent” deal to sell its south Bethlehem casino, hotel, outlet mall and concert venue to MGM Resorts International for $1.3 billion. Unfortunately, the deal sunk after the introduction of the bill started to threaten the prosperity of the land-based casinos.

The proponents of the bill explain that VGTs should not be seen as a jeopardy, but as a way to contribute to the increase of the state budget. It is reported that up to now, there are more than 40,000 VGTs, which are operating illegally.

On the other hand, casino owners are placing efforts to protect their business and it became clear that 11 out of 12 of the state casinos will oppose the bill. The only casino, which supports the bill is said to be Hollywood Casino in Dauphin County, simply because its owner runs also a VGTs business.

To relieve the pressure, the bill has some luring proposals to the casino owners, such as slot machine tax decrease from 54% to 49%.

The introduction of the bill set up a fire between the casino operators and the Pennsylvania Tavern Association, simply because the interest of both parties are just in the opposite directions. It is yet to be decided if the bill will move ahead, or it will sink into oblivion.

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