Hearing in PA Today to Discuss Online Gambling Regulation

by Kyle Miller

PennsylvaniaA hearing is scheduled to take place today to discuss online gambling regulation within the state of Pennsylvania.

It seems as if almost every day there is something new going on in Pennsylvania in regards to the gambling industry. For months now, legislators have been discussing various bills that would see the gambling industry expand including the option to offer online gambling within states borders. However, so much has been on the table, from video gambling terminals to airport gaming and online options, no one single piece of legislation has been able to move forward. However, today a hearing is set to take place that could see movement in regards to online gaming in the state.

CERD Hearing

The Senate Community, Economic, and Recreational Development Committee is expected to meet today, as reported by the Poker Player’s Alliance and Online Poker Report. The hearing is said to discuss bill H 271 which involves online gambling regulation. The committee has not formally scheduled a meeting but sources are stating that the point of the meeting is to bring the bill forward for a vote.

But what would happen if the bill were to move out of the committee? To begin, the Senate would vote. If they choose to pass the bill then it would move on to the desk of the state Governor Tom Wolf. If the House decides to make changes to the bill then it would have to return to the Senate for consideration.

  • Currently, it is unclear as to which proposal the committee will be moving forward, if they do at all. Several proposals are on the able that cover a variety of gambling expansion pathways such as:
  • Online poker and online casino licensing and tax rates
  • Allowing other groups to gain operator licensing side from the land-based gaming venues of the state
  • Tax rates: rates could be 14% on all games, 25% for all games or as much as 54% for slots and 16% for table games.
  • Online gambling being headed by the lottery instead of the land-based gaming venues

Reportedly, state Senator and chairman of the Committee, Mario Scavello, told Online Poker Report that the tax rate would be decided upon yesterday and then hopefully today a vote would take place. Many worry that the 54% tax rate on slot games is just too much and operators will not show interest as they do not want to pay that much to offer slot gaming.

House and Tax Rates

The House also has an issue when it comes to tax rates. It seems both the House and Senate cannot seem to come to a decision as to how the taxes should be set. Representative George Dunbar is a sponsor of legislation being considered in the House that would see a 14% tax rate. According to Dunbar, a high tax rate could be detrimental to killing online gambling efforts.

For now, this is all we know. It will be interesting to see over the coming days what happens. Will the hearing take place or will nothing happen? Proponents of online gaming want to see the state begin to offer online casino and poker gaming. But some type of legislation has to be passed in order for the state to move forward.

Since 2013, Pennsylvania has tried to see legislation come into law in order to offer casino and poker options online. It seems 2017 may be the year but legislators will have to come to some form of consensus before any of the proposed measures will be sent to the desk of the governor for approval.