Help offered from Pennsylvania on small games of chance applications

| Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, 11:39 p.m.

Restaurateur Rick Porado is eager to learn more about a new Pennsylvania law that will give bars, restaurants and taverns an opportunity to offer small games of chance to customers.

The Legislature estimates the state could generate up to $156 million a year through a 60 percent tax on games and application fees for a tavern gaming license.

“This isn't going to be anything like legalizing the poker machines,” said Porado, owner of Rick's Sports Bar & Grill on Route 22 in Export. “Anything to make a buck, but the state is going to take their cut.”

Certain businesses with retail liquor licenses can begin applying on Jan. 27. The application costs $2,000, half of which goes to cover a background investigation of applicants. Those who receive approval pay an additional $2,000 to obtain the license.

“There is not a quota system,” said Stacy Kriedeman, a spokeswoman for the state Liquor Control Board. “There is no limit on the number of licenses.”

Starting Jan. 14, state officials will hold a series of seminars to answer questions about the law, which will allow raffles to raise money for charitable or public purposes, pull-tab games and daily drawings.

A session is scheduled Jan. 21 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Green Tree. In addition to LCB officials, representatives from the Gaming Control Board, Department of Revenue and state police will attend.

“This is something that is new and something that is somewhat complex in regards to the application process,” Kriedeman said.

Not all retail alcohol beverage licensees are eligible to apply. Prohibited are those with an eatery retail dispenser license or club and catering club license, as well as grocery stores, casinos and professional sports venues.

Porado said he's interested, but he questioned the steep application fee and cost of a background check.

“You can do those for about $50,” he said. “Where did they come up with $1,000 for a background check?”

In addition to regular retail alcoholic beverage licensees, the law allows clubs such as American Legion posts, Moose Lodges and others to keep 40 percent of profits and donate 60 percent to charity, a 10 percent increase from an old state law.

Private clubs making less than $40,000 per year from gambling profits will be able to keep $20,000 for operating expenses. Those making less than $20,000 a year would not be required to file annual reports with the state.

Bar owners, in addition to the 60 percent state tax on revenues, will pay an extra 5 percent into a fund to be split among municipalities.

State officials estimate that could total about $13 million per year.

Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or

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