Posts Tagged ‘Pennsylvania gambling’

Blackjack games open in Pennsylvania

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Tuesday saw the U.S. state of Pennsylvania celebrate the launch of table games in their casinos, which had until then housed online slot machines. The Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs hosted a grand-opening ceremony, where the Mohegan tribe’s vice chairman, Bruce “Two Dogs” Bozsum, offered a blessing.

There was then a free ceremonial blackjack hand played by four lucky customers chosen at random. In that hand, the players competed for a prize of either $25,000 or a new Mercedes. Two of the players beat the dealer and won the money, but the other two didn’t walk away empty-handed. As a consolation prize, they won $5,000.

The Mogegan Sun casino, located in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, now offers 46 tables of blackjack, poker and more. That is not the only improvement made to the casino this week, though. The casino also instituted a new rule where all drinks are on the house for players at tables with a $25 or more minimum.

Nearby Mount Airy Casino Resport also opened table games this week. Like the Mohegan Sun, they now offer free drinks, but there the drinks are free for anyone who is gambling on the gaming floor, whether you are playing at a high-roller table or a penny slot.

All of this is good news for blackjack players and drinkers (for players who like both, it’s a great deal). It is common for casinos on the Las Vegas Strip to offer complimentary drinks to anyone on the casino floor, but smaller casinos outside of Sin City usually have not had that practice. By instituting those perks, the Pennsylvania casinos are signaling an intent to compete with the big players in the casino market.

PA May Revoke License of Foxwoods Casino

Friday, April 30th, 2010

It’s not easy to open a casino in the United States, or anywhere for that matter. There is a ton of red tape, regulations that need to be met, licensing requirements, and big investments have to be made up front. Now one Pennsylvania casino may go out of business before it even begins business.

Foxwoods Casino is a proposed $500 million casino that is supposed to be located in south Philadelphia, along the Delaware River. However, it still hasn’t been built and there is no indication that it would happen anytime soon. Now it is in danger of having its license revoked.

Foxwoods Casino received a gambling license to operate slots, blackjack and other table games back in December of 2006, but has run into nothing but problems since then. To highlight a few of the problems, they have been indecisive about where to build the casino, some citizens are opposing it, and there have been major problems with financing.

That’s the big one. It takes a lot of money to build a casino because not only do you have the normal costs that go along with starting a company, you also have tons of different fees that go to the government. Original investors in the casino have backed out and Foxwoods is now looking for more financing. Last month, Nevada casino developer Steve Wynn showed interest in rescuing the project, but then backed out.

The Gaming Control Board has lost patience with the Foxwoods Casino project. Cyrus Pitre, a lawyer for the Board, stated that he is filing a complaint to revoke their gambling license. Foxwoods officials would then have 30 days to fight the revocation and prove that they still have the means to open and run the casino. There could also be a lengthy appeals process in the courts.

Yesterday, the Gaming Control Board rejected a request by Foxwoods Casino for six more months to line up new investors. The Board thinks that Foxwoods has had enough time to get financing and is ready to move on. The Board also upheld a $2,000-per-day fine on Foxwoods – which is currently at $300,000 —  for missing a deadline to submit data showing their progress.

If Foxwoods has their gambling license revoked, that would allow other casino developers to come in and compete for a license. Donald Trump showed interest in the past – even attempting to get a Philadelphia casino license in 2006 –  and may be a player in the future if Foxwoods loses their license.

So if you live in the Philadelphia area and were excited about a new casino, you might want to look elsewhere, because it will be some time before one is running near you. The good news is that western Pennsylvania approved the licenses of two new casinos, the Meadows in Washington County and the Presque Isle Downs in Erie County. But should have slots, blackjack tables and more by July. Then again, we’ve seen how hard it is to get a casino up and running around there…

PA to Have Blackjack by July 4?

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Last month, many blackjack fans were pleased to hear that Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell had signed a bill into law that would allow table games in the state. Since then, the move to allow blackjack, poker and other table games in state casinos has been put on the fast track. The Chairman of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, Greg Fajt, says that table games could be in operation in the casinos by the Fourth of July.

To gambling enthusiasts, that date makes perfect sense. On America’s Independence Day, when freedom is celebrated more than any other time, gamblers will be given the freedom to challenge a dealer at blackjack, something that inexplicably had not been allowed before.

Yesterday, the gaming board issued temporary regulations for casinos that are adding table games. By issuing the temporary regulations, the process of getting the games up and running is sped up. Those regulations include the required training for dealers and which rules are accepted for poker, among other things. The temporary regulations are effective immediately and last for two years. By the end of that two-year period, the gaming board will have had time to sit down with the casinos, unions, and everyone else involved, and come up with more permanent regulations.

Prior to this table game legislation being signed into law, only slot machines have been allowed in Pennsylvania casinos. By adding table games, the slot casinos should be able to attract more customers and make a lot more money, which in turn will benefit the state of Pennsylvania due to the tax revenue and other costs. Each casino that wants to add table games must pay a $16.5 million license fee up front. In addition, in the first two years, table games will be taxed at 16%, with it dropping slightly to 14% after that time. Larger casinos will be allowed to add up to 250 table games each, while small resort casinos will be allowed 50 table games.

The legalization of table games is thought to be a great help for Pennsylvania’s economy, but not everyone is happy. Take the state of New Jersey, for example. That state has its own gambling market and isn’t pleased at the thought of more competition. Many in the state fear that Atlantic City casinos will lose a lot of business to the Pennsylvania casinos, particularly the New York City market.

Table Games Approved in PA Senate

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Updating an earlier story, it seems that table games – including blackjack – are on their way to being legalized in the state of Pennsylvania. A bill was introduced to the state House and Senate that would legalize and regulate table games. The added revenue would help a struggling economy and, according to Governor Ed Rendell, help the state avoid job cuts.

Yesterday the state Senate approved the bill and it is now up to the House. It is believed that there are enough votes to pass the bill in the House and some say it could pass as soon as tonight. Slot parlors are already present in Pennsylvania and some have been trying for a while to add table games, such as blackjack, craps, baccarat and more.

Earlier Governor Rendell had warned Congress that if the bill did not pass, the state would be forced to lay off nearly 1,000 workers, with most being in the state prison system and the Department of Welfare. With unemployment already ridiculously high, saving jobs should be a priority for any politician. If this bill passes the state House, it will save almost 1,000 of them, according to the governor.

PA Governor Must Really Want Table Games

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

I’m a big fan of table games, my favorite being blackjack. They’re a ton of fun and blackjack in particular has just the right mix of chance and strategy. It seems that Ed Rendell, the governor of Pennsylvania feels the same way. He is an advocate for the legalization of table games in Pennsylvania casinos and sees them as a way for generating extra revenue for a state that, like the rest of America, is hurting for cash.

When politicians want something bad enough, they usually resort to threats. It’s that way from city politicians all the way through the President of the United States. Such is the case here. Governor Rendell warns that if a bill legalizing the table games is not passed by the end of the week, the state will need to cut funds by laying off nearly 1,000 state employees, with the state prison system and the Department of Public Welfare seeing most of the cuts.

This is a common strategy. It is common for cities to claim that if they don’t get an increased budget they will lay off police and firefighters (rather than, say, not putting pretty plants along the highways). Prisons and welfare are kind of a state’s version of that threat. Rendell may in fact me serious about the threat, but if so, he would take a big hit politically. It will be interesting to see how things turn out.