The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a bill that would regulate online gambling on Thursday, the most progress the state has seen on the issue to date.
The positive vote in PA for online gambling
HB 2150 — an omnibus gambling expansion package — came up somewhat unexpectedly on Tuesday. It passed the House Appropriations Committee late on Monday before hitting the full chamber.
When it got there, the bill passed along the lines of a vote last week, in which a daily fantasy sports bill was amended with the expansion package.
The bill was approved, 114-85, and now heads to the full Senate. The legislature is scheduled to adjourn June 30 while trying to pass the state’s fiscal year budget. That deadline can be extended if lawmakers want to keep working on the budget.
The bill also regulates daily fantasy sports and allows slot machines at airports at off-track betting parlors.
Online gambling revenue and the PA budget
Reports from Monday indicated that the gambling package — including online gambling — would be a part of a budget plan being advanced by House Republicans.
Of course, that was a plan at points in time during the past fiscal year in PA, before such efforts were derailed. The full House never passed a bill with online gambling in it, before this year.
However, it’s not clear if the Senate or Gov. Tom Wolf will sign off on the gambling package as part of the state budget. Right now, gambling is only being advanced publicly by the House.
There is still a chance that the final budget deal between the legislature and the governor would not include revenue from gambling expansions, which estimates place at $200 million or more.
Online gambling alone could produced in excess of $100 million in the state in Year One via licensing fees and taxes.
What’s next for online gambling in Pennsylvania?
Having cleared the House, the bill heads to the Senate. If the legislature is serious about gambling to fund the budget, it could see action quickly.
It will likely have to get through at least two committees: the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development and Appropriations committees. The bill appearing on the agenda of either panel in the coming days would likely signal the Senate’s intent.
The fiscal year starts on July 1, and the legislature has a soft deadline of June 30 to get a budget deal done. That deadline, however, is essentially meaningless; a final budget for the state was passed nine months late for the current fiscal year.
If gambling isn’t in the Senate’s plans for funding the government, the bill might be on the sidelines for the foreseeable future, or it might not come up at all.
The latest online gambling progress
The advancement of the bill marks nearly unprecedented momentum for US online poker and gambling: