Pennsylvania State Representative Tina Davis and 11 other sponsors introduced House Bill 1235, the long awaited online gambling bill. The bill would allow the state’s casino operators to offer online poker and casino games. The games would only be available to state residents. Tourists would not be allowed to play online poker or casino games in Pennsylvania.
The bill would allow Pennsylvania to form compacts with other states or international operators. Compacts with other nations would require federal approval, while state compacts are allowed under the current interpretation of the Wire Act.
The bill requires players to be 21 years of age or older. Players must be a member of the casino’s players club. Accounts must be opened in person. Players that are self-excluded or banned from Pennsylvania casinos would also have that status applied to Pennsylvania internet gambling.
Pennsylvania Online Gambling Banking
Players would have several banking options. Cash, money order, bank wire, ewallet and echeck deposits would be allowed. Credit cards and debit cards could be added if approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Withdrawals could be made by check mailed to the player’s registered Pennsylvania address or by bank transfer to an account registered to the player and address on file. Credit may not be extended to players.
Dormant accounts are not defined by a period time. That will be determined later by the gaming commission. A dormant account will have its balance seized. The state and the operator will split the funds 50/50. Attempts must be made to contact the player by email, standard mail and by phone before seizing the account.
Any game allowed in Pennsylvania casinos would also be allowed over the internet. This includes, poker, slots, video poker and table games. Table games would have the same rules across all operators as required by existing brick and mortar gaming regulations.
Taxes and Licensing Fees
Online gambling licenses would only be available to existing casino operators. The initial fee would be $5 million with annual renewals running $500,000. There would be a 28% tax rate on internet gaming revenue. This is higher than the 16% tax rate paid by table game revenue in brick and mortar casinos, but half the 55% tax rate on slot win.
The Tax Payer Relief Act would receive 55% of total revenue. This tax money reduces property taxes for the elderly. The State Lottery Fund would receive 30% of internet taxes. This would fund free or reduced rate transportation for seniors. The remaining 15% would go to the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund.
Problem Gambling Features
Pennsylvania online casinos would be required to follow the same problem gambling policies as their brick and mortar counterparts. There would also be several internet only requirements. This includes a feature that would allow players to set a daily loss limit and a cool off period if that limit is reached. Players could also set max bet limits and self-exclude themselves for any period of time. Players that are in a cool off or self excluded cannot be sent marketing material by mail or email from the casino during that period.
Still Far from Becoming Law
This bill has been referred to the Committee on Gaming Oversight. The bill must pass committee before being considered by the Pennsylvania House. The same process will be required in the State Senate.
View the full bill here.