Two bills would grow gaming

Two bills making their way through the Pennsylvania General Assembly stand to expand the opportunities for gaming in the commonwealth.

House Bill 290 would expand the games allowed to organizations under Pennsylvania’s small games of chance law, adjust prize limits and ease regulations organizations featuring the games must comply with.

Meanwhile a companion measure, House Bill 1098, would allow professional sports organizations’ non-profit affiliates to hold sports drawings and expand gaming to taverns.

“Small nonprofit organizations are a crucial financial lifeline in communities across the state, providing funding for everything from emergency response, to little leagues and veterans services,” state Sen. Joe Scarnati said in a press release. “We need to make sure these important groups have the ability to raise the money they need without undue restrictions.”

HB 290 would introduce pools, wherein participants pay an entry fee for a chance to win a prize based on the outcome of an event; raffle auctions, in which participants buy a ticket for a chance to win a prize; and race night gaming, in which participants place an entry fee or wager on a prerecorded horse race.

The bill specifies that small games of chance may be used by an organization whose “primary purpose is the promotion of a public interest” to raise funds.

Maximum prize values for small games of chance would be raised from $1,000 to $2,000 for most small games of chance and established as $3,000 for raffles. Weekly prize limits would be raised from $25,000 to $35,000 and yearly prize limits would be raised from $100,000 to $150,000.

The bill also exempts organizations with revenue from small games of chance under $40,000 from requirements to keep proceeds in a separate bank account and file an annual report on the funds.

“Many local charitable organizations have expressed to me that changes made last year to reporting and accounting requirements were overly burdensome, which is why I advocated for including these important exemptions in the law,” Scarnati said in the press release. “These key changes will help small nonprofit organizations to be able to focus more on their charitable missions.”

HB 1098 would allow the non-profit affiliate of a professional sports organization or a professional auto racing facility to hold drawings within live spectator areas. Proceeds from the drawings would be split evenly between prizes and donations, less the direct cost of holding the drawing.