Pennsylvania House Passes Revenue Budget Plan

by Jim Hall

PennsylvaniaThe Pennsylvania saga continues but in the right direction as the House has passed a budget plan.

It seems the state of Pennsylvania may have finally solved their budget crisis which could mean online gambling will eventually come to pass. Last night, the House was able to pass a revenue package, but online gambling was not included. However, this does not rule the option out for the state as it is needed to provide the much-needed revenues for the budget.

The Latest Update

Two weeks ago, the budget deal that was on the table fell through and lawmakers took a break in order to regroup and try again. After a week off, legislators were back in action on Monday. Governor Tom Wolf was now starting to provide options to see a budget plan created, announcing that he would be borrowing against the state’s liquor coffers in order to meet the budget shortfall of $2 billion+.

By late yesterday afternoon, the revenue plan created by House Republicans began to emerge. The option was to be immediately brought up for vote and was officially called to the floor. A vote took place later on the in the evening with the bill passing 102-88.

The plan is placed in H 542 with the core being borrowing money from future state tobacco settlement revenues. The figure presented from this plan is as much as $1.5 million. This might seem like the same thing as what Wolf is presenting but it is different. The state has been talking about privatizing the liquor system of the state for some time. The plan by Wolf would require liquor stores to be controlled by the state for two decades at most.

What About Online Gambling?

According to Online Poker Report, a gaming package is part of the plan, though it is not included in the omnibus revenue bill. This is known for several reasons including the fact that House Majority Leader Dave Reed commented that the gaming bill is a separate proposal.

A report at Penn Live states that the plan does include an expansion of legal gambling, but the expansion area has yet to be determined. The details still have to be worked out but another $200 million will be provided to the state via gambling expansion.

In the past, online gambling has been an integral part of any gaming package presented. It is believed that with a gambling expansion for the state, will include online gaming options like poker and casino games as well as video gaming terminals being added to private establishments within the state.

Now, we must wait and see if the Senate as well as Governor Wolf are on board for the bill that was approved by the House. If they are, then the gaming package will have the potential to move forward and online gambling may finally come to fruition in the state.

Basically, it all boils down to if the House, Senate and the Governor can agree on the gaming aspects of the package. This has been a problem in the past and may continue to be a problem. Video gaming terminals have been a point of contention between the House and Senate so one will have to give a little in order to see something agreed upon.

It will be interesting to watch legislature in the coming days and weeks to see what takes shape and if Pennsylvania will become the fourth state in the US to legalize and regulate online gaming in the US.