Burns votes against gaming expansion that favors big casinos over neighborhood clubs, bars

HARRISBURG, Oct. 26 – Citing its blatant favoritism toward big corporate casino interests, state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, today voted against a hotly debated, 939-page gaming expansion bill pushed through the Republican-majority House with little time for thorough scrutiny.

Burns said H.B. 271 wasn’t given to House members until Wednesday evening, giving rank-and-file members scant opportunity to dissect its voluminous contents. But from what could be ascertained on short notice, Burns said the bill fell short of gaining his approval because it didn’t include video poker for bars and clubs.

“Once again, the legislature has sold out to corporate interest by choosing big casinos as the winners, leaving hardworking, small, mom-and-pop tavern owners behind. It’s a disgrace,” Burns said. “Video poker machine profits would have stayed in Pennsylvania and been spent here, having a multiplying effect on the economy. But setting up casinos to make even more money sends those profits to some corporate office that’s not in Pennsylvania.”   

Burns said the bill’s authorization of interactive gaming – called iGaming for short – for casinos basically puts a slot machine in everyone’s pocket via their smartphone, which means they can gamble anytime, anywhere.

“That isn’t a wise or prudent expansion of gaming, and I fear its potential to harm those who are lonely, elderly or both,” Burns said. “The state shouldn’t actively promote any revenue source that has such potential to take advantage of those who are in a vulnerable state.”

The bill passed the House 109-72.