Pennsylvania Online Gambling Update: Fall is the Season

by Jim Hall

PennsylvaniaThe state of Pennsylvania looks forward to the fall season as a time to continue the discussion and possibly pass legislation in regards to online gambling.

It seems that fall is the season Pennsylvanians can look forward to when it comes to online gambling. The state has named this season the time when a vote will take place in regards to online gambling legislation. Casino and poker gaming is close to being available online as Pennsylvania is set up to be the next state to offer such gaming options.

A gambling bill has yet to be voted on despite passing within the General Assembly this past summer. If the vote takes place in the fall and is approved, gamers could have the option to enjoy their favorite casino or poker games late this year or early next year. Analysts are optimistic that the vote will take place due to the language used to pass the 2016-2017 budget. In the budget language, it stated that $100 million would be coming from online gambling, so we know it’s coming, it’s just a matter of when?

Online Gambling in the State

To recap, legislation for online gambling was proposed in the House. This would include mobile and desktop computer gaming. The activity would be taxed at a rate of 16% and land based operators as well as racetracks would be able to take part. Online gaming sites could be created by such operators after licensing was granted. One could assume the state would operate in the same fashion and allow land based venues to partner with online gaming companies to get the ball rolling.

Casino Table Game Tax

In the meantime, while online gambling is not in the mix, legislators have decided to increase the table gaming tax. Table games have went up 2% in overall revenue taxes in the state. A total of 16% will now be paid on table games instead of 14%. This tax increase was included in the new budget and state gaming operators were not happy with this change. They will now have to pay more for land based table gaming and have to pay additional taxes once online gambling is passed.

Video Lottery Terminals a No-Go

The state also tried to see video lottery terminals added in the state but were unsuccessful. The House did not approve a proposal that would provide video lottery terminals in private clubs and bars in the state. Licensing would have been required to provide such gaming. Operators of gaming felt that VLTs would have been new competition and told lawmakers that the option would increase competition without significantly increasing the tax revenues.

Let’s Talk Fantasy Sports

As if all this gaming talk were not enough for the state, Pennsylvania also has fantasy sports in the works. The gambling bill includes provisions that will allow for daily fantasy sports to be licensed and regulated as well as taxed. Such sites as DraftKings and FanDuel will have to adhere to regulations set forth within the state once legislation is passed. Several states are working on legislation for daily fantasy sports as well either by itself or included in online gambling legislation.

Moving Forward

For now, it seems players will have to wait until the fall to see if legislators will be voting in favor of online gambling legislation. Operators in the state have already partnered or are in talks to partner with online gaming operators in anticipation of legislation moving forward. The state is seemingly ready, but simply waiting on the legislation to move forward so action can be taken to begin offering online casino and poker gaming within the state.