Sports Betting Legislation Moves Forward in Pennsylvania

by Jim Hall

Pennsylvania GamblingWhile the state of Pennsylvania is considering several areas of gambling via legislation, a bill has pushed through in regards to sports betting.

The state of Pennsylvania has been busy this year when it comes to their gambling industry. The focus of the state has been on several areas of gaming including expansion efforts as well as repairing the local share tax. While legislators have been considering several moves to add revenues by way of gaming in the state, no legislation has seen movement. Until now. Apparently this week, a bill pushed through a House committee that would see sports betting legalized in the state. However, for this to come to pass, federal law would have to change.

Efforts for Sports Betting

The legislation that moved forward is H 519. This bill is similar to efforts in New Jersey to see sports betting come to pass. However, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act stands in the way. The PASPA bans single game wagering across the United States, with Nevada being the only exception.

If the Pennsylvania law on sports betting were to continue with its momentum and be enacted, it would allow for sports betting to take place, if federal law was repealed or a new law enacted. Basically, the bill sets up the state to become involved in sports betting if federal changes are made in the future. Such legislation would allow the state to act quickly and get a leg up on competitors if the industry were to open up within the full US.

The sports betting bill was penned by Representative Robert Matzie and was able to pass within the House Gaming Oversight Committee on Tuesday. No one voted against the measure but it is unclear if the feelings are the same throughout legislature. The vote takes place as larger discussions on gaming are prevalent in the state. Several areas of gaming are being considered, from online casino and poker to daily fantasy sports.

Will Sports Betting Cause Controversy

For some time now, Pennsylvania has been trying to pass legislation in regards to gaming expansion. So far, on the table for consideration has been online casino gaming, daily fantasy sports, video gaming terminals, airport gambling, etc. So much has been on the table that it has made it difficult for legislators to pass any particular bill. It seems so much is being considered that it blocks out any attempt to move forward.

For example, while some legislators might be in favor of online casino gaming, they do not wish to see video game terminals added to bars and restaurants of the state. When so much is added to one bill, it seems to knock back efforts to expand in any one area. So now, it begs the question will this sports betting bill get in the way of the debate as to what gaming should be like in Pennsylvania. This bill could continue to go on its own, be added to the larger gaming expansion plans or just die altogether.

Other States Interested in Sports Betting

Aside from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, other states in the US have shown interest in sports betting legalization. Several states have introduced measures on the subject though none have been able to gain any ground. West Virginia and Michigan are included in the mix and seem to be the most promising when it comes to actually passing a bill into law on the subject. With the passage within the House committee of the Pennsylvania measure, it seems they may be the next to pass sports betting legislation in the US, if momentum continues.