The history of Penn is that it makes its gains in sharp, short bursts, often for no immediate reason. So relax a bit, have a little patience, enjoy the coming Spring, and let it happen.
Actually, there are 3 state legislative sessions going on right now that are important to Penn. WV (we want table games), Illinois (we want the tax rollback to occur on July 1 as scheduled), and MD (we want no slots). I'd take 2 out of 3, with Illinois being the most important.
Regarding MD, it seems Peter Angelos has just backed out of his deal to buy Rosecroft Raceway, apparently because slots in MD is not looking good. Good for Penn.
<<Furlong, any take on how Illinois is leaning? Or is it totally up in the air?>>
The Governor's budget address today (long on spending ideas and short on revenue sources) left some speculating that gaming expansion could be part of the mix this year.
The Senate President (also a Democrat) and the Governor's only loyal supporter last year during budget negotiations is continuing to push a propgram of expanded gaming gaming positions at existing facilities, slots at the tracks, and additional gaming facility locations, including one in Chicago, that would collectively raise $1 Billion, just to start.
The Senate lost its "Godfather of Gaming in Illinois" due to retirement this year, and their is a huge leadership vacuum in that chamber now for someone to champion this issue; paying attention to the details, through the Senate even in the Democratic (majority) caucus. When the Senate re-organized for the current legislative session after the recent election, they did not re-constitute the Gaming-Revenue Committee.
The rest of the legislature; and especially the House is much more cautious after the Governor has hung them out to dry on gaming proposals several times in the last 2 years. The Speaker has indiciated that he will not advance or call any gaming legislation until such time as the Governor will publicly claim exactly what he will support, and how he would support it.
One of the biggest wild card obstacles to getting anything done is the Mayor Daley in Chicago, who's legislative agenda is to have a land based casino, with more than twice the gaming positions currently at the other licensed locations, and have the facility government owned. With the daily disclosure of ongoing corruption in city government in Chicago, this gives the suburban Republicans all the cover they need to kill anything involving government ownership in Chicago.
In the end; even if something were to start to advance, it would probably become so bloated again that it would sink of its own weight. Unless the Governor steps forward and embraces the issue and provides leadership and expends political capital to get something pushed through, I don't see anything happening this session; especially since he will be filing for re-election later this year.
I am more concerned at this point that they will actually roll back the gaming tax increase according to schedule in July. I think at best at this point, with a projected $2B deficit and the Governor starting to gear up for another campaign it may be 50/50 at best that this actually takes place.