Video gaming terminals would help state

The good news is that Harrisburg passed a budget. The bad news is that they still have no way to pay for it. In fact, they are billions of dollars short.

Some options to raise the necessary funds are to implement a tax on every drink purchased at bars and restaurants, increase the state income tax, increase the severance tax or allow mini casinos all throughout the state.

Most of these options would further destroy small businesses, especially privately owned restaurants and taverns.

However, there is one option that would help balance the budget that seems to be the overwhelming front-runner — video gaming terminals (VGTs).

VGTs would generate annual recurring revenue of more than $300 million to $500 million for the state. VGT legislation already passed the House of Representatives, but failed to pass the Senate.

The reason that our state senators did not pass this legislation is because of the out-of-state billionaire casino owners’ efforts to derail the VGT bill. However, it is important to remember that those out-of state billionaire casino owners were not the ones who voted our state senators into office.

A lot of our senators are out of touch with the average Pennsylvanian. We do not want an increase in our taxes and we do not want to pay a tax on every drink purchased at a bar or restaurant.

Legalizing VGTs would save so many family-owned businesses from going out of business in an industry that is being completely engulfed by the corporate chain restaurants and franchises.

The state recently passed Act 39, which legalized grocery stores and convenience stores to sell beer to go. This is just one of the many bills that have been passed in recent years that has significantly hurt restaurants and bars.

VGTs would not only revive the dying family-owned bar and restaurant industry, but they would save the citizens of Pennsylvania from being subject to yet another tax increase and even possibly a whole new tax altogether.

Please join the fight against out-of-state billionaire casino owners that are in the pockets of many of our senators. Urge your state senator to support VGTs and bring new life to small businesses in Pennsylvania.

Tony Pacifico

Altoona

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