Pennsylvania Senate approves major expansion of legal gambling

Business News

The Pennsylvania Senate has approved a plan to expand casino-style gambling to truck stops, online portals, airports and 10 new casino sites, as lawmakers scramble to break a four-month budget stalemate.

The bill, approved 31-19 on Wednesday night, passed barely an hour after the Senate made a draft of it public. A House vote could follow later Wednesday night.

Senate leaders expect the plan would raise more than $200 million in license fees and higher gambling losses in a bid to help stitch together the state’s deficit-riddled finances.

It would make Pennsylvania the first state to allow both casino and lottery games online, in a quest for money from new and younger players.

It also would require casinos to pay a $10 million payment annually to their host communities, in an effort to reinstate a mandate struck down more than a year ago by the state Supreme Court.