Gambling for College Tuition!
Gov. Ed Rendell’s plan to offer tuition relief to some students entering community college and state universities in the fall will be funded by video poker machines at bars and private clubs, according to two key Democratic legislative sources.
The proposal calls for allowing as many as five video poker machines each in bars, restaurants, taverns and private clubs, with a goal of generating $550 million a year for aid to college students.
State police Commissioner Frank Pawlowski said legalizing this industry that operates under the table will free up state police to investigate violent crimes, illegal drug trafficking and other offenses. He figures 17,000 illegal video poker machines are in operation today.
Revenue Secretary Steve Stetler said it could generate revenue from licensing manufacturers and distributors of the machines and the bars that decide to offer the games. Additionally, the state would take 50 percent of the net profits from the games themselves.
Bar and tavern owners in particular have wanted to bring some form of gaming into their businesses for years, especially since the state legalized slot machines in 2004. Private club operators have also clamored for a piece of the action, saying slots eroded their ability to raise funds for community causes.
The tuition program is targeted to students from families who earn less than $100,000 and would be launched starting with next year’s entering freshmen.The Truth Tracker Jason R. Bootie