Just because Gov. Ed Rendell announced a budget deal Friday night doesn't mean the state has a budget.

Individual line items, the dollar amounts going to individual programs, will not be finalized until later this week. The new sources of revenue Rendell announced -- increasing the sales tax on cigarettes, taxing small games of chance, applying sales tax to performing arts tickets -- will each require separate pieces of legislation.

But no one seems to think there will be much bluster over a key new source of cash: allowing table games such as poker and blackjack at the state's casinos.

The architects of the compromise expect table games to bring the state $200 million this fiscal year and $120.7 million in 2010-2011, said Erin Marsicano, legislative aid to state Sen. Mike Waugh, R-Shrewsbury Township.

Projections for this year are higher, Marsicano said, because more casinos are expected to buy the $15 million table games license this year.

Local legislators of both parties expect table-games legislation to pass quickly without the battle that preceded the vote to allow slot machines at racetracks around the state and stand-alone casinos.

"Once you allow gambling, the argument that you shouldn't have casinos goes out the window," said Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover.

The push for table games comes as a national study finds Pennsylvania is one of the few states that saw an increase in gambling revenue last year.


Gambling revenue from lotteries and casinos here rose 11.7 percent from fiscal year 2008 to 2009, according to the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government. Pennsylvania's casinos brought the state $965 million last year. By comparison, casinos in Nevada paid that state $858 million.

A large chunk of Pennsylvania's revenue comes from one-time fees casino owners pay the state. But there's also a novelty factor, said Lucy Dadayan, a senior policy analyst who authored the study that will be published Monday. It's something new, she said, and people want to try it.

If the state approves table games, she said, it can expect another bounce.

"Pennsylvania will collect a lot of money in the short-term," Dadayan said. "But in the long run, they will see the same trends as the other states. It's not a stable source of revenue."

If other states are any indication, she said, the novelty factor will fade. At some point, neighboring states Maryland and Ohio will likely up the ante by passing their own table-game laws. Just like gamblers in eastern Pennsylvania might have traded a night in Atlantic City for Bethlehem last year, she said some people would stop making the trip here.

She pointed out that three Pennsylvania casinos -- Harrah's Chester Downs, Mount Airy Casino Resort and Presque Isle Downs and Casinos -- had quarters last year that delivered the state less revenue than the previous year.

Part of that decline is likely due to the recession, Dadayan said, but that only shows that in tough economic times, when states often need more revenue, gambling will likely come up short.

If table games are approved, it would be at least four months before casinos could break out the cards, Marsicano said.

"Nine facilities are currently open and most have space to make room for table games," she said.

Legislators have not decided if there would be a provision that would require casinos to keep a certain percentage of their floor space dedicated to slot machines, Marsicano said.