PA Online Gaming and DFS Efforts Seem Dead for 2016

by Jim Hall

PennsylvaniaWhile Pennsylvania appeared to be the next state in the US set to pass legislation in regards to online gaming, the state has fallen behind this year with legislation appearing to fall dead.

Pennsylvania seemed to be poised to become the next state in the US to offer online gambling in the legalized and regulated setting. However, the state faced several setbacks and now with the Senate seemingly not interested in the latest legislation, the option for online gaming and DFS to pass into law for 2016 seems dead in its tracks.

No Plans to Vote

The Pennsylvania House decided to vote in favor of the measure that included daily fantasy sports betting and online gaming back in the summer. The bill then moved on to the Senate who said they would review the measure this fall. Now it appears that the Senate does not have any plans to review the measure and the bill is dead for 2016. Casey Long is the Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs for the Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati who recently stated that there are no plans for a vote at this time on the matter.

The regularly scheduled sessions for voting were done by October but both the House and Senate are set to come back after the election, in one week to be exact. Bills that are not passed by the 30th of November will need to be reintroduced in January when the next legislative session begins.

Long actually spoke with Player’s Advantage and stated that the republicans of the Senate plan on addressing a comprehensive gambling package once the first of the year arrives. This package would include a replacement for the local share assessment tax of $10 million that is paid by state casino’s each year to host communities. Back in September, the state Supreme Court decided that the current method of local share tax is unconstitutional and only 120 days were provided for changes to be made in this regard by lawmakers.

The House has passed legislation two times in regards to online gaming and DFS with the Senate reportedly having no consensus on the matter. Representative Jason Ortitay is the sponsor of the measure that would fix the local share tax as well as provide online gambling regulation. Those in favor of DFS and online gaming state that the betting is already taking place in the state but is completed without protections in place for consumers and no revenues are produced from gambling taxes.

With the bill that the House passed, 14% would be imposed for a state tax based on gross online gaming revenue. An additional 2% local share assessment would be included as well. For daily fantasy sports, a tax rate would be set in the state at 12% based on revenues. The Gaming Control Board of the state would be responsible for online gaming and well as DFS regulations.

Provisions for the Online Gaming Industry and DFS

Operators of online gaming and daily fantasy sports would have to adhere to provisions set forth by the legislation, if the measure were to make it into law. Such provisions would include operators of online gaming being required to take reasonable measure to prevent collusion and cheating devices from being used. Operators of DFS services will have to disclose the total number of entries that an individual can have in DFS contests and make sure this number is not exceeded.

Player money and operational funds must be in separate accounts. Operators of DFS, including family members and employees, are prohibited from taking part in the contests provided. More provisions are included to ensure player protections.

Overall, the state is trying to work their way towards offering online gaming and DFS with full regulations in place, it is just taking some time to do so.