Pennsylvania Online Gambling Efforts May Be Revitalized

by Jim Hall

Pennsylvania Supreme CourtWith only a few days remaining to see any movement, online gambling legislation efforts in the state of Pennsylvania may be ramped up after a recent Supreme Court ruling.

Just a few days ago, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the local tax structure included in the gaming act from 2004 in the state is unconstitutional. Legislature now has 120 days to try and fix the issue. To be able to make any changes, government officials will have to amend the 2004 law and this could be a great way for legislation to come about involving online gaming.

The Senate has been putting off their deliberation of online gaming but it seems they will no longer be able to do so. Action must be taken on the tax issue with as much as $50 million at stake in that area alone. $100 million is expected to be provided to the state by way of gambling expansion and online gambling but cannot happen until legislation is created. It seems the decision by the Supreme Court came at the right time to get Senators moving on such legislation.

House is Ready; Senate in No Rush

A gaming reform bill is sitting in wait after being passed by the House back in the summer months. The Senate has to review the measure and vote on whether or not to push the bill forward. The bill is a key component in passing online gambling in the state. The bill will be used as a way to fund the state budget for 2016-2017, a budget that was already passed by the House and Senate.

The House has been trying to push the Senate to act on the measure. Members of the House are afraid as to what will happen if the measure is not considered until a new legislative session. There is uncertainty there is a new session is held that could hurt the chance of earning the $100 million that online gambling is supposed to bring to the table next year.

The House is Pushing in October

The Senate will only meet on the 17th to the 19th and the 24th to the 26th of October. This means there are only six days left in which the Senate can decide what they will do in regards to the legislation. A public hearing was supposed to take place last week to see the House discuss the matter and hopefully push the Senate in the right direction. However, it seemed that as soon as the hearing was announced it was cancelled and did not take place.

Once the Supreme Court made the tax ruling, the House Gaming Oversight Committee decided to set the hearing up again, actually setting back to back hearings. The first will take place on the 18th of October and will be discussing the decision by the Supreme Court on the casino gaming taxes. The next day, another hearing will take place to discuss an update on where the state is currently sitting as far as online gambling is concerned as well as daily fantasy sports gaming.

The House seems more than ready to move forward while the Senate has not shown as much concern. So now, many are wondering if the Senate will be ready to move forward or will the House try to find other ways to force the Senate to do something. Remarks by certain individuals within the Senate has many believing that they are not ready to tackle online gambling just yet.

Jay Costa is the Senator Minority Leader who stated after the ruling that a tax fix can take place during this session as long as it is not complicated by a broader issue of a gaming expansion. So we may see no movement at all when it comes to online gambling legislation, only time will tell.