The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board announced yesterday that it was lowering the license fee for a tavern gaming license from $2,000 to $500. It’s safe to assume that the PLCB has had to take a long hard look at its tavern gaming licensing process, application fees and regulations because of the minimal interest that eligible bars and restaurants have had in seeking the gaming license. When the tavern gaming legislation was first passed, the state estimated that it would generate nearly $100,000,000 in revenue through the licensing process and the tax generated on the games themselves. Legislators soon realized that that estimate was grossly out of line and through the first half of 2014, there have only been 21 tavern gaming licenses issued according to the PLCB.
While the reduction of this license fee appears to be some recognition that the tavern gaming process needs to be addressed, licensees should still understand that this reduction affects only one of the multiple fees that are paid throughout the process. In order to obtain a tavern gaming license, the applicant must still submit an application packet along with a $2,000 non-refundable application fee. That $2,000 fee is split between the PLCB for its processing of the application and the Pennsylvania Gaming Commission who conducts the background investigation. If an applicant makes it through that initial phase and if their application is approved, in order to receive the license, the applicant must pay this newer, reduced fee of $500. So as a whole, while the initial cost of obtaining the license is reduced, it is still significant at a total of $2,500.
Whether this is a significant enough change to generate some more interest in the tavern gaming licenses remains to be determined.
Aaron Zeamer is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Widener University and practices in a variety of areas including Business Law and Liquor License matters.