Online Gambling Hearing Sets Stage For Legalization Push In Pennsylvania

October 18, 2016
Online Gambling Hearing Sets Stage For Legalization Push In Pennsylvania

After calling off a similar hearing in September, the Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on online gambling and daily fantasy sports this Wednesday, according to multiple sources.

The purpose of the hearing is to tout the benefits of legal online gambling in Pennsylvania, and lay out the reasons that the Senate should act on online gambling in 2016, and not kick the can down the road to 2017.

US Poker has confirmed the following people are scheduled to testify at the hearing:

  1. John Pappas, the executive director of the Poker Players Alliance.
  2. Steve Brubaker, an Illinois online gambling and DFS lobbyist.
  3. A representative for Penn National Gaming.

More names could be added to the witness list.

Pappas to highlight consumer protections

Pappas will focus on the consumer protections and new revenues that legalization of online gambling would bring to the state.

As Pappas said in a tweet on Monday:

Pappas is a regular speaker at these type of hearings, and has done an admirable job of refuting the myths and cherry-picked data opponents of online gambling have been spouting for years.

Expect to hear about defunct online poker sites like Lock Poker when Pappas testifies. Lock Poker went belly up in 2015, taking millions of dollars in player funds with it. Also look for Pappas to talk about Full Flush Poker, which recently went offline, leaving player deposits in limbo. Both sites demonstrate that prohibition isn’t working, and its consumers who are paying the price.

Another theme Pappas has touched on in the past is the ease of access to these illegal, offshore sites, and their lack of consumer protections, such as age verification and responsible gambling safeguards.

Compare this to the legal online gambling markets, where Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey have done a tremendous job on the consumer protection front.

Pappas is also likely to discuss potential revenue from online gambling, including poker tourism, and some of the ancillary benefits online gambling brings to local casinos and the state.

Brubaker on DFS

Brubaker told US Poker he was invited to the hearing to discuss the current fantasy sports laws that have been passed this year. Brubaker said he will be emphasizing how bad most of these new laws are for small businesses: DFS companies not named DraftKings or FanDuel.

Another point Brubaker wants to make is something he first brought up at the National Conference of State Legislatures conference in Chicago. “Where’s the fire?” Brubaker told USP. “What is the urgency in shoving bills through general assemblies when most legislators have no idea about what this industry is?”

“This nonsense that 57 million people play DFS is causing a frenzy to do SOMETHING when analysis and thoughtful discussion is needed.”

It will be interesting to see how this is received, considering the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is hoping the hearing gets the Senate to act on an online gambling and DFS bill.

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Penn National’s advocacy

Among the state’s casino interests, Penn National has been one of the loudest voices for online gambling legalization in Pennsylvania.

Throughout the process, Penn National has offered a full-throated endorsement of legalized online gambling, going so far as to create an internal report on online gambling revenue estimates.

At a hearing in June 2015, Eric Schippers, the senior vice president of government affaira at Penn National, called iGaming a “vital tool” to evolve and protect what Pennsylvania’s casino companies have already built in the state. Schippers went on to say that despite commentary to the contrary, “iGaming will not cannibalize brick-and-mortar gaming – the opposite is true.”

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