Trib editorial: Gambling gold in Westmoreland County no sure bet
The possibility that one of 10 additional mini-casinos could end up in Westmoreland County has public officials envisioning a substantial payoff. But as with any form of gambling, not everybody wins.
Under the law that allows for up to 750 slot machines and no more than 40 table games at these “satellites,” Greensburg, Latrobe and other locales would meet the stipulation that any new facilities cannot be within 25 miles of existing casinos. And while Washington County and its municipalities have pocketed more than $148 million in tax revenue since the Meadows opened there in 2007, any satellite casino would be smaller.
But gambling's goose may be running out of golden eggs in Pennsylvania. A report by credit-rating agency Moody's shows that any additional gambling sites, given the state's 12 existing casinos, may not see quite the windfall that's imagined.
Gaming demand has been fairly sluggish nationwide, with Pennsylvania seeing “relatively flat to 1 to 2 percent revenue growth,” says analyst Peggy Holloway. And the state's “take” — a more-than-50-percent tax on the new iGaming industry — may be a disincentive to new business, which can find lower taxes elsewhere.
Never mind the effect on poor countians lured by local gambling.
Westmoreland communities that prefer not to roll the dice on casinos have until the end of December to notify the state gaming board. At the very least, residents' input should be considered before county and local officials opt to go all in.