Pennsylvania Lawmaker Holding Out Hope for iGaming

by Jim Hall

PennsylvaniaAs lawmakers return to work next week, there is still hope that a budget package will be created to include online gaming for Pennsylvania.

It seems like every week that is an update to the saga involving Pennsylvania, online gaming and budget issues. We already know that the state wants to use online gambling via casino and poker games to provide much-needed funds to their budget. However, lawmakers cannot seem to pass a budget deal in order to get the ball rolling. At least one lawmaker is holding out hope that the state will be able to pass a budget and include online gaming in the mix.

Just last week it seemed that a budget plan would move forward in order to start working on the $2 billion+ budget shortfall. However, plans blew up on Wednesday and now many wonder if the deal will be done before the year’s end.

Governor Tom Wolf Steps In

State Governor Tom Wolf has decided to step in as of last week, looking to borrow funds against future profits from state liquor sales in order to come up with some kind of funds to balance the budget. This left everything up in the area, including if lawmakers will be able to come to a consensus when it comes to passing a budget to move forward.

Lawmakers are not currently in session but according to a report by Erie News Now, there may be a way for a revenue package to move forward. This would include a shale gas tax which is quite controversial. Plans were made last week to bring up a bill involving the shale tax last week but no vote took place. Now, it seems more House republicans are on board and such a bill has the potential to move forward.

With this tax, revenues could be created that would help the state to balance the budget.

Online Gaming Still in the Mix

According to the report, online gaming is still on the table and could very well be approved. Lawmakers have debated a package last week that called for an expansion of the gambling industry including online options, video gaming terminals at truck stops and mini casinos to be constructed in the more rural areas of Pennsylvania. It is believed that such an expansion could bring as much as $200 million or more in revenues.

Optimism surrounded the talks of budget plans for the state in September and into October. Once the bill fell flat last week, it began to seem as if no progress will be made. Until a plan is actually brought to light and voted upon, it’s hard to have any hope that a positive outcome will be created.

So far, talk has been quiet expect for this recent report from Erie News. Representative Ryan Bizzarro has stated that he feels gaming will be included with any package that is moved forward.

For now, the House and Senate will be back at work next week. So, there could be possible movement in regards to legislation involving casino and poker gaming moving online in the state. However, so much is at stake and so many plans on the table, it may still be some time before we see any solid movement towards a budget plan that everyone can agree on.

Hopefully, the time off has allowed lawmakers to weigh the pros and cons and be ready to push forward so online gaming can come to fruition and the much-needed funds for the state budget can begin to roll in.