Long after the recession ends, one of its most visible legacies is likely to be more places – and ways – for Americans to gamble.
Pennsylvania lawmakers in October ended the nation’s longest state budget standoff by counting on some $250 million in revenue that would be raised by legalizing and taxing casino table games, such as blackjack, craps and roulette.
But the General Assembly didn’t actually approve the table-games legislation itself until this week, when the House signed off on the measure on a largely party-line vote, with Democrats supporting it and Republicans in opposition, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. If the measure passes the Senate this week, Pennsylvania would become “one of the most gambler-friendly places in the nation,” The Inquirer said in a critical editorial.
The Gila River Indian Community in Arizona opened a $215 million casino on Oct. 30. The 10-floor building is billed as the largest hotel and casino in the state by the tribe, featuring more than 1,000 slot machines and more than 70 table games. A $400 million casino, under construction on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, will add another 497 rooms, 800 slot machines, 50 poker tables, keno and off-track betting. The facility is scheduled to open in April. Through gaming compacts, the state receives a percentage of Native American casino revenues.
Gamblers in and around New York may be cheering another piece of news today: the Obama administration is likely to grant federal recognition to Long Island’s Shinnecock Indians, “clearing the path for the tribe to pursue its plans for a casino in New York City or its suburbs,” The New York Times reports. Most of the tribe’s members live on about 800 acres of land in Southampton, N.Y.
While cash-starved New York State would not gain financially if the tribe builds a casino on its own land, it could allow the Shinnecock to build a bigger casino – with table games – closer to New York City and potentially collect “billions of dollars in revenue,” The Times reports. Gov. David Paterson (D) supports the tribe’s pursuit of federal recognition. The state’s fiscal crisis, meanwhile, “may bring new urgency to casino discussions” in Albany, the paper says.
States around the nation have dramatically expanded gambling in recent years, and the recession is creating more opportunities than ever to wager. Ohio voters in November approved four new casinos after rejecting similar plans in the past. The Los Angeles Times reported this week that a casino group wants to offer recession-weary California a share of the money if it allows Internet poker sites to set up shop in the Golden State. More and more states are giving their gamblers the chance to play both major lottery games – Powerball and Mega Millions.
Even in the undisputed capital of American gambling, Las Vegas, the building boom continues. The long-awaited, $8.5 billion CityCenter luxury project opened yesterday, National Public Radio reports.