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Poker Machines to be legalized in Pennsylvania

4/2/2009
Video poker games are to be legalized in the state of Pennsylvania with the $550 million a year they generate being used to help aid college students.

The Democratic governor wants the General Assembly to legalize the machines. Education Secretary Gerald Zahorchak said, “We have to look at this as a crisis. We have students making a decision based on the economy, and once they make that decision not to go to college, they may never go back.”

Supporters of the legalization say they want to create a dedicated source of higher education assistance at a time when the cost of a college education is increasingly out of reach for middle class families.

However opponents fear that the move will be expanding state gambling without considerations of the costs. Rep. Paul Clymer said, “We are going to be the new Nevada.” Supporters also believe that the legalization will make the unregulated industry to work for the tax payers. Acting Revenue Secretary Steve Stetler said, “This is not an expansion of gaming it is the recognition that video poker is already a thriving industry in Pennsylvania.” State Police Commissioner Frank Powlowski confirmed this saying that there are 17,000 video poker machines already operating illegally in the state.

Under the proposition students’ whose family income is less than $100,000 would be eligible for up to $7,600 in grants for attending any of the 14 universities in the State System of Higher Educations and the 14 community colleges this fall. It is estimated that the system would end up helping more than 170,000 students.

Pennsylvanian students are particularly in need as the state has the nation’s sixth most expensive college education cost, $532 more than the national average. Students on average graduate with more than $19,000 in debt, higher than students in many other states.

Danielle Almond
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