Pennsylvania Online Gambling Up In The Air With A Week To Go

October 21, 2016
Pennsylvania Online Gambling Up In The Air With A Week To Go

What’s going to happen with online gambling next week in Pennsylvania’s legislature?

In reality, no one likely knows, probably not even the senators and representatives in charge of dealing with gambling issues. The possibilities with three days left in the PA Senate’s session range from absolutely nothing to regulating online gambling and poker. There is a very real possibility that the issue will get punted until 2017, as well.

So where do things stand with a very short time to get something done?

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The moving parts in Pennsylvania gambling

Online gambling is but one piece of the puzzle regarding the larger gambling picture in Pennsylvania. Here’s some of the issues that are percolating:

  • The state legislature and Gov. Tom Wolf promised $100 million to the state budget in the form of a gambling expansion. How seriously any of the parties takes that promise — or if and when it plans to fulfill it — remain to be seen.
  • Lawmakers are weighing what to do in the short term about a Supreme Court decision that impacts casino taxes that go to jurisidcitions that host gaming facilities. That discussion has further muddied the waters for online gambling. The court decision has taken away more than $140 million in revenue for the state until it’s fixed.
  • GamblingCompliance (paywall) is reporting that Penn National is pushing for casinos to run iGaming only under their own brands, a stance that PokerStars and others are pushing back against.

A week with little action

Chatter abounded this week about what the state was going to do regarding iGaming specifically and gambling more generally  — including up to three bills that could be vehicles for gambling expansion and taxes.

But other than House hearings about the casino tax fix and online gambling/daily fantasy sports, nothing of substance happened publicly. No bills were amended or voted on.

Any action regarding gambling legislation was going on behind the scenes, as intimated by Sen. Kim Ward:

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What’s next for PA and online gambling?

We’ll be watching and waiting to see if gambling comes up in the final three scheduled days of the Senate session. (Since the House has already passed a bill with iGaming and DFS in it, any action appears like it will emanate from the Senate.)

The Senate meets Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before calling it quits until after the November elections. There is at least a chance that the Senate tacks on a day (or days) if issues that need to be dealt with have not been resolved. It’s not clear if anyone believes the casino tax fix rises to that level, even though the impact on local communities kicks in in January.

If something doesn’t happen on Monday or Tuesday, the odds of iGaming happening this year go down dramatically, as the House would likely to vote on whatever the Senate passes, as well.

For now, online gambling is still on the table for next week, albeit with uncertain prospects.

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