Online Gambling Efforts Continue in Pennsylvania

by Kyle Miller

Pennsylvania GamblingNew legislation was introduced this week just before a hearing on the subject of online gambling was to take place in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania has remained one of the top states in the US with the potential to pass legislation in regards to online gambling. For several years now, legislation has been proposed and discussions had between lawmakers to get the state involved in online casino and poker gaming. It seems efforts are working as a hearing was set to take place today and a new bill was introduced by four senators to help push the state to pass legislation to get the ball rolling for iGaming.

Joint Hearing

A joint hearing was scheduled for Pennsylvania yesterday with the House Gaming Oversight Committee and the Senate Community, Economic And Recreational Development Committee in attendance. Several groups as well as legislators and proponents of gaming were to be on hand to discuss what the state could do in regards to online gaming. Just ahead of this hearing, a new measure was introduced that could be the final push to see the state finally become the next in the US to legalize and regulate online gaming.

SB 477 is a new senate bill introduced by four state senators of Pennsylvania. The bill is basically a copy of HB 392 which was introduced earlier into legislation. With the new measure, there are several aspects of online gaming as well as gambling expansion information that is covered. To begin, the bill would legalize online gambling and daily fantasy sports with regulations put in place. This is a key point as lawmakers need to do this in order to bring much-needed funds to the state as part of budget plans.

The new bill also covers the local share tax which is to be paid to host communities where casinos are located. This would be an annual fee paid via certain slot license holders. The tax issue has been ongoing since September of last year when the state Supreme Court ruled that the current payment being made was unconstitutional. This is another major decision that has to be made in order for the state to continue to receive payments from land based gaming providers.

The SB 477 would also authorize multi-state progressive slot machines as well as allow the state to provide skill-based and hybrid slot machine games. Table gaming would be allowed at local airports.

Tax and licensing fee information is also listed in the bill with online gambling providers paying a 14% tax on gross gaming revenues. This amount would go directly to the state. 2% in gross gaming revenues will go towards local communities. To receive an interactive gaming license, a company will have to pay a licensing fee of $8 million. An interactive gaming operator, which would be a platform provider, will have to pay a one-time licensing fee as well of $2 million. Renewal fees will have an annual cost of $250,000 for interactive gaming license holders and $100,000 for interactive gaming operators.

State Senators Involved

The new bill was introduced by four senators of the state who include; Thomas Killion, Guy Reschenthaler, Camera Bartolotta and Patrick Stefano. These senators have not really had previous involvement in the online gaming efforts in the state so it is surprising to see the legislation created by this group. In the past, it was Jay Costa, Senate Minority Leader, who decided to create a gaming reform bill which had a higher tax rate and larger licensing fee.

Reports have yet to surface as to what happened during the meeting but we expect news to break at any moment to let the public know how the state has or will be progressing as far as online gambling is concerned.