PA Online Gambling Wait Continues With Seven Days Left; Hearing Canceled

September 27, 2016
PA Online Gambling Wait Continues With Seven Days Left; Hearing Canceled

Two days into the short session for the Senate in Pennsylvania, and the news for online gambling, poker and daily fantasy sports ranges from nearly non-existent to not good.

Hearing on PA online gambling = off

The only movement that happened for online gambling was a hearing that was supposed to happen, but didn’t.

The House Gaming Oversight Committee had planned to hold a hearing on the subject of online gambling and daily fantasy sports. That group was supposed to examine what other states had done when it came to those two subjects.

However, that meeting was scrapped. That, in and of itself, isn’t terribly noteworthy, as committee meetings are scheduled and canceled all the time in the Pennsylvania statehouse.

This one, however, was viewed as important, even though the House had already passed a bill that would legalize and authorize iGaming and DFS. It appeared as if the House scheduled the hearing to push the Senate to act on a planned gambling expansion that was included in the state budget.

Why the meeting was canceled is not known. No matter the reason, the House is not getting a chance to shine a light on the benefits for jurisdictions that have legalized and regulated forms of online gaming.

DFS bill does make progress

Meanwhile, a Senate bill dealing with only DFS was reported out of the Appropriations Committee. (The House bill discussed above was an omnibus gambling expansion package that included online gambling and DFS, in addition to land-based gambling measures.)

Right now, the sense in PA is still that DFS and online gambling will be handled in tandem if and when the Senate gets down to brass tacks. However, right now, its DFS, and not the larger gambling expansion, that is active.

The House, given the Senate’s reluctance to move forward on its gambling bill and iGaming, might not be that excited to take up a DFS-only bill that would create little in the way of revenue. (That would assume the DFS bill makes it all the way to a full vote by the Senate, and is passed.)

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What’s next for online gambling?

After today, there are just seven days left in the Senate’s session before the November elections.

If nothing happens before then, the issue would be punted until 2017. The question would remain of where $100 million for the state budget would come from; it is supposed to be generated by new gambling measures.

Time hasn’t run out, yet, and there’s certainly the possibility that negotiations are going on behind the scenes, and that action could still be taken.

But for now, what — if anything — the Senate plans to do on online gambling, and when it might do something — remains a mystery.

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