Pennsylvania Casinos On New Liquor Law: Thanks, But No Thanks

September 15, 2016
PA casinos alcohol

A new law passed in June intended to make it possible for Pennsylvania casinos to serve alcohol around the clock, if they desired.

So far, not too many gaming establishments are warming up to that idea.

The new alcohol law

In June, Gov. Tom Wolf signed a new law that would allow casinos to serve booze around the clock, for a price.

The cost for the new 24-7 license is $1 million in each of the first four years and $250,000 annually after that.

That law, however, has not been a hit with the casinos so far.

According to Trib Live, none of the state’s casinos has paid for such a license.

Casino reception to the law

The licenses just don’t appear to be appealing to anyone. From Trib Live:

“The cost associated with it doesn’t make mathematical sense,” said Craig Clark, general manager of Rivers Casino on Pittsburgh’s North Shore.

The sentiment of Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh appears to be shared by all of the gaming establishments in the state. Here’s Sands Bethlehem, from the Morning Call:

“We’re not going to pay $1 million for the privilege of selling alcohol after 2 a.m. and I don’t know of any other casino that will,” Sands Casino CEO Mark Juliano said. “Who advises these legislators? This one doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

Hollywood Casino at Penn National agrees. SugarHouse has also said thanks, but no thanks.

So why did they pass the law at all?

PA lawmakers indicated that they had interest from casinos to pass the law and allow 24-7 liquor sales.

What they missed on, apparently, was the price. It’s not clear why the state would pass a law authorizing the around-the-clock sales when casinos aren’t willing to pay the pricetag associated with it.

Common sense would dictate that lawmakers would check in with casinos and try to find a suitable price point. That did not happen, obviously.

It’s also $12 million that the state was counting on and isn’t receiving, as the state constantly struggles to balance its budget. If the state wants to get some money out of the casinos, they need to make the law cheaper for them.

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