Online Gambling Efforts Move Forward in Pennsylvania

by Jim Hall

Pennsylvania Online GamblingNew legislation to be efforts ramp up in Pennsylvania in regards to online gambling.

For more than a year now, the state of Pennsylvania has been the favorite to become the next individual state in the US to legalize and regulate online casino gaming. In 2016, efforts in this regard made great strides as options were discussed and legislation moved forward. However, the year ended disappointingly as an online gambling bill was unable to pass into law. Now it seems that efforts are ramping back up as legislators announce plans to propose new online gambling bills in 2017.

New Efforts

It was expected that online gambling legislation would be proposed this year as the state took great strides in 2016. Two representatives of the State House in Pennsylvania announced this week that they will be making an effort to propose legislation for iGaming. Representatives Rosita Youngblood and George Dunbar published a memorandum mid-week in efforts to find co-sponsors for an omnibus gambling expansion bill that will include online options.

This announcement comes just a short time after State Senator Jay Costa announced that he would be presenting legislation similar to the bill that was approved by the House in the fall of 2016. The proposal by the representatives will be similar as well as it will allow for online gambling to take place in the state as well as daily fantasy sports. Their bill will also include gaming tablet usage at international airports of the state. Laboratories would also be created where manufacturers in the gaming industry would be able to test devices and products.

The measure to be proposed by the representatives also includes a solution to the casino levy tax problem that began in September of last year. The state Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Mount Airy gaming venue that the tax paid by casinos to their local municipalities was not constitutional as the smaller venues paid a different amount than larger casinos. The amount was to be $10 million or 2% of slot gaming earnings, which ever amount was larger. In this bill, the casinos would have to pay a flat $10 million fee to host counties. However, category 3 gaming venues would be taxed differently.

For the representatives and senator’s bills, it is still unclear as to when the measures will be proposed. The representatives are hoping to find more support for their proposal, pointing out that fact that their option will be more focused on regulatory framework to help insure a local gambling industry with integrity as well as protection for consumers.

If either bill is able to gain traction, we may see the state of Pennsylvania move forward online gaming legislation once again and perhaps finally be the next state to offer such gaming options. Lawmakers have until the end of May to come up with a solution for the levy tax and many are trying to push additional gambling options along with the tax solution, including online gaming and expansion in other areas. This could be the push that the state needs to see online casino gambling come to fruition or the aspect that stops any legislation from moving forward.

Many states in the US are currently looking at legalizing online gambling including California, Michigan, New York, Massachusetts and more. However, Pennsylvania still remains the top contender to be the next to join Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey in offering a legalized online gambling industry in the nation. If the state were to begin offering such gaming, they would add as much as $100 million in taxes to coffers.