What Rep. Payne said about PA online gambling this time
Rep. John Payne, who chairs of the House Gaming Oversight Committee, told Trib Live that parts of a bill that contains a number of gambling measures — HB 649 — will become law this summer.
“Look, we need revenue,” says Payne, R-Dauphin County, the bill’s prime sponsor. “They’re not going to find votes for (higher) taxes in an election year. So I would think gaming will be a component.”
Online gaming has the potential to create tens of millions of dollars of revenue for the state right off the bat in the form of licensing fees, followed by taxes on gaming revenue once iGaming goes live.
Better luck this time for iGaming?
Of course, Payne has been bullish on the prospects of online gaming for about a year a now, ever since his bill was introduced. Originally, it was a bill just for online poker and casino game regulation, but now it is an omnibus gambling bill.
Recently, Payne said the bill would be taken up in the spring; the passage timeline is apparently into the summer, per Payne’s comments, however.
Online gaming and the gaming bill had been off the table for months before suddenly joining the budget conversation in a serious way for a brief time in the fall. It appears to still be in the background of current budget negotiations, as well.
Better get it done now?
The efforts to get online gambling legislation through the legislature may very well rest on the short term.
The biggest proponents of iGaming in the state — Payne and gaming committee Democratic chair Nick Kotik — both announced they would not seek reelection this year.
That doesn’t mean that iGaming would be dead without their presence, but they have been responsible for pushing the issue forward, even penning a joint op-ed last year on online gaming.
The departure of Payne and Kotik would leave Pennsylvania without a vocal champion for regulation of online poker and casino games.
If the bill doesn’t get passed this summer with those two lawmakers still in positions of power, online gaming in PA would face a more uncertain future than if they were still in office.