House-Senate compromise allows table games, which will fund libraries.

State Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Pittsburgh) has supported a House-Senate compromise that will allow table games at Pennsylvania casinos, improve oversight of the state’s gaming industry, and provide critical support for Pittsburgh-area libraries.

“This bill provides two critical components of Pennsylvania’s economic stabilization: jobs and tax revenue,” Ferlo said. “A careful and well-scrutinized expansion of the gaming industry will keep us competitive with neighboring states while providing badly needed support for struggling public libraries.”

A House and Senate Conference Committee today approved the compromise after months of debate, leading to passage in the Senate by a vote of 28-22.

Ferlo said the success of Pennsylvania casinos, which have provided more than $1 billion in property tax relief to seniors and revenue for critical public projects, was threatened by approval of table games in neighboring states.

“Before the approval of slot machines, Pennsylvania gamblers were providing tax revenue for surrounding states without any local benefit,” Ferlo said. “By allowing local casinos to remain competitive, we can keep that money here while providing thousands of good jobs.”

The Carnegie Library will receive $850,000 from the taxes generated by casinos, helping to avert branch closures in one of America’s most literate cities, including the Lawrenceville Branch located in Senator Ferlo’s district.

The compromise legislation also completes efforts to improve oversight of Pennsylvania’s casino industry, including restoration of a ban on campaign contributions from casino interests.  A prohibition against campaign contributions was part of the original gaming legislation passed five years ago, but it was struck down by the Supreme Court as being too vague in its intent.

“It was vital that we consider expansion of gambling only with increased oversight and tighter controls,” Ferlo said.