Pennsylvania Lawmaker Shifts Focus to Sports Betting

by Kyle Miller

A Pennsylvania Representative has plans to introduce legislation focusing on sports betting.

Pennsylvania is one state in the US that has been heavily focused on expanding their gambling industry. From adding slot machines at airports to entering into the online gambling industry, many subjects have been covered. It seems now, one lawmaker wants to shift the focus from casino gaming to sports betting.

New Legislation to be introduced

Representative Robert F MatzieHouse Representative Robert F. Matzie has spoken with fellow lawmakers revealing that he has plans to introduce a law that would allow sports betting to legally take place in the state. Matzie has held a role in Legislature since 2009 and has been encouraged by the new president Donald Trump to try and see sports betting offered in the state.

On Monday, a memorandum was issued by Matzie to discuss the efforts by New Jersey to see sports betting legalized. The moves by New Jersey have now spurred Matzie to action and he believes that there is possibility that the activity could be legalized.

In New Jersey, a decision by a lower United States court was appealed by the state as continued attempts have been taken to try and legalize sports betting. Federal laws are in the way of the state and the United States Supreme Court was supposed to take up the issue on the 17th of this month but a decision was made to wait. The Supreme Court will now be waiting to hear from the new US Solicitor General to find out their opinion on the subject.

Matzie feels that the state is in a good position to be able to offer various activities involving sports betting. Legislators should be ready to act on such legislation if the federal ban involving sports betting is finally lifted.

What’s in the Way?

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 is what stands in the way of states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania from offering sports betting. The PASPA was enacted years ago and allows only four states to provide sports betting as it was grandfathered in. Nevada is the only state that offers full on sports betting while Delaware has the option but only offers one type of sports betting.

A federal move would have to take place with changes in the federal law to be able to allow states the right to offer such gaming. Many states have joined the fight with New Jersey but no change can take place until the case has been heard by the Supreme Court. It will be interesting to see if the court decides to change the ruling in favor of states having the opportunity to make the decision themselves.

For now, in Pennsylvania, Matzie has yet to reveal if he will push for sports betting legalization in a separate piece or add it to a large bill including other issues. Pennsylvania is currently considering several gambling changes including one that has to take place, changes to the tax levy on slot gaming in the state.

We could see Matzie create a measure that tries to solve this issue along with combining sports betting, though the legislation may not get very far. Lawmakers have been given an extension to try and solve the tax issue, where casinos were paying $10 million in taxes or 2% of slot revenues, whichever amount was higher, to host communities. The State Supreme Court recently named this tax unconstitutional and gave lawmakers until late January to find a solution. Lawmakers recently asked for an extension and now have until the end of May.

It will be interesting to see what the legislation looks like once Matzie introduces and to see what all it entails for the state.