Is Pennsylvania Moving Forward with Online Gambling?

by Jim Hall

PennsylvaniaPennsylvania lawmakers may have reached an agreement in regards to gaming expansion for the state.

For months now, it seems that most of our reports are centered around the state of Pennsylvania. The state has been the frontrunner to become the next to legalize online gaming in some form or fashion but legislators continue to have problems pushing legislation to become law. Over the past few months, we have watched as the Pennsylvania House and Senate have been unable to come to an agreement as to how the state should expand upon their gambling industry. Some lawmakers are focused on online gambling while others want to see satellite casinos added or video gaming terminals allowed at local bars and taverns. Now it seems, lawmakers may have finally found a point of consensus and could be on the same page when it comes to a gaming expansion plan.

Are Legislators on the Same Page?

As of today, several news outlets are reporting that the legislators in Pennsylvania have come to an agreement on how gaming should be expanded in the state. Sources were quoted by City & State Pennsylvania that legislators had been able to come to an agreement as to how online gaming should take place in the state. Reportedly, poker and casino websites will create part of the $225 million expected from additional gaming revenues that lawmakers had already agreed would be provided for the state budget.

For the current fiscal year, the state needs to meet $32 billion in budget funds. $225 million would certainly help reach this number. Reports have surfaced that legislators want to try and bring in an additional $25 million via increased taxes for casino table games. Currently, table games have a 16% tax at casinos that must be paid from revenues. The state may now increase this percentage to 20%.

In previous legislation, the online gambling industry would be paying $10 million to $15 million in onetime licensing fees to get started and then 15 to 20 percent in taxes of online revenues once established. It is unclear as to if these numbers will stay the same or change.

The twelve licensed casinos in the state would have the ability to gain licensing for online gaming as well as the ability to open 10 satellite casinos in rural areas of the state. Such venues will have to be located far from the exciting casinos. On top of the satellite casino addition, the state would also allow video gaming terminals to be placed at truck stops.

VGT and Satellite Casinos

The VGTs and satellite casinos were a point of contention in previous plans. It seems that now, both have cancelled each other out. The plan to add VGTs to truck stops has fewer machines allowed now. The House wanted to see 1,500 allowed but now, there will only be ten VGTs installed per location. However, this could change in the future as no details seem to be set in stone.

It seems a few lawmakers are still not on board with every aspect of gambling expansion being considered. Frank Dermody, the House Minority Leader, has stated that he has yet to agree to any plan and will not until he has been able to review details further. A budget vote is on the agenda next week for the Senate so we could see more movement as far as plans for the budget this weekend or into next week.

It seems over the next few days many decisions will be made that could actually see online gambling come to fruition within the state of Pennsylvania.