Dawkins condemns gambling expansion bill

HARRISBURG, June 8 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., voted against legislation that would dramatically expand gambling in Pennsylvania.

Dawkins said the expansion would not only saturate the gambling market at the expense of the Pennsylvania Lottery and the senior citizens programs it supports, it would further threaten the safety and quality of life of residents in the neighborhoods he serves and throughout Philadelphia. 

House Bill 271 includes authorizing up to 30,000 locations for video gaming terminals at licensed liquor retailers and establishments by the end of 2018 and 40,000 by 2020, as well as gambling tablets or “iGaming” at Pennsylvania’s six international airports, including Philadelphia.

Dawkins added the "stop and go" liquor businesses that have been such a problem in Philadelphia would be eligible and that there is no distribution formula for ensuring that Philadelphia neighborhoods are not saddled with the majority of machines. 

“My concern is about the stop and go locations. It is a fact that 75 percent of gamblers have a drinking disorder. We have a saturation of stop and go’s in Philadelphia and this constitutes another challenge for us,” Dawkins said. “When you live in communities like mine, when you see poverty, addiction and opioid abuse, you can’t understand how we are putting another potential problem in our city.

“It’s impossible not to think about our relatives and friends who are fighting with addiction and what this legislation is going to do to them and their families.”