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Pennsylvania governor backs legalizing video poker

4 February 2009

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania -- As reported by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Gov. Ed Rendell today will ask the Legislature to legalize video poker machines, which long have flourished as an illegal industry in Pennsylvania, to provide tuition relief for families earning up to $100,000 per year.

"'This is not an expansion of gambling. It is the recognition that video poker is already a thriving industry in Pennsylvania,' acting state Revenue Secretary Stephen H. Stetler said.

"The plan is to make college tuition more affordable in tough economic times, Education Secretary Gerald Zahorchak said. Tuition relief would be provided to students attending 14 community colleges and 14 state-owned universities such as Slippery Rock and California.

"'This is an emergency,' Zahorchak said. 'It's a crisis.'

"He said the plan would help 10,000 students who otherwise could not afford to attend college. A family earning $45,000 annually would save 77 percent by sending a child to a state-owned university, or would pay 15 percent less at a community college, Zahorchak said.

"Pennsylvania would join nine states that allow video poker. Stetler said license fees and a 50 percent tax on gross sales after payoffs to gamblers would provide $550 million annually. Bars, taverns, restaurants and clubs could have up to five machines..."

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