Few players at the table

Small games of chance are apparently a bad bet for taverns in Pennsylvania, since, at this writing, only a handful of watering holes have applied for licenses.

The General Assembly and Gov. Corbett were hoping for millions of dollars in new revenue for the state as well as some coin for local municipalities when they expanded gambling to taverns.

However, since applications for the licenses became available on Jan. 27, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has received only six.

That’s right; among the thousands of bars in Pennsylvania, only six so far have decided to go for it.

What happened?

We were told at the time that our elected representatives had heard impassioned pleas from bar owners, asking to please, please, please be allowed to pass around pull-tabs, run raffles and all the other gambling goodies that private clubs had been offering for years.

“This rollout is worse than Obamacare,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman, R-Centre, said at a hearing last week. “More people signed up for Obamacare than we’re signing up for this small games of chance, from an industry who begged for this.”

Sen. Corman said he believed the requirements for two sets of background checks, state and federal, have dissuaded bar owners from applying.

Others have complained about the sheer volume of paperwork involved and whether the buy-in is worth the effort. The state requires $2,000 as an application fee and another $2,000 for the license if it’s granted.

Add in the cost of materials, and bar owners would be sliding at least $6,000 on the table for their gamble on gambling.

A spokesman for the governor remains upbeat, predicting that many, many more taverns will be coming on board throughout the year.

We, however, believe the expansion of small games of chance will probably not produce a drop in the bucket of revenue the legislature and governor had hoped for.

It is an indication that the legalized gambling well has reached the upper limit of its productivity.