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Gov. Wolf OKs gambling expansion

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Gov. Tom Wolf
Gov. Tom Wolf - (Photo / )

Gov. Tom Wolf today signed legislation to expand casino-style gambling and other budget-related bills to help fill Pennsylvania's nearly $2.3 billion deficit.

The General Assembly last week passed a series of bills to wrap up the $32 billion state budget for 2017-18, which has lingered for nearly four months without a final spending plan.

One of the bills signed by Wolf legalizes online gambling portals for casinos and airports, allows 10 mini-casino sites, permits video gaming terminals at truck stops and regulates fantasy sports betting.

The move is projected to generate $239 million in the current budget year and $100 million in recurring revenue in future years.

Also under the bill, the Pennsylvania Lottery will be allowed to offer online games, making Pennsylvania the first state to allow both casino and lottery games online. It is the fourth state to allow online gambling.

The governor also signed off on other budget-related measures, including $1.5 billion in borrowing from the state's tobacco settlement fund, $500 million in fund transfers between state accounts, imposing a tax on fireworks and applying the state sales tax to goods sold online.

"While this provides much-needed funds to fix our broken deficit, the process shows that Harrisburg is still broken," Wolf said. "A complete budget shouldn't come months after both chambers agreed on spending. And Pennsylvanians shouldn't have to pay more because of a downgrade caused by inaction and ideology."

S&P Global Ratings downgraded Pennsylvania last month over the budget impasse.

Wolf did not get the severance tax on natural-gas drilling that he was seeking as part of the final revenue plan. But he said he plans to keep fighting for that tax. His next budget address is only a few months away.

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Jason Scott

Jason Scott

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin and Cumberland counties. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jscott@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal.

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