By all accounts, Tuesday appears to be the day of reckoning for the Pennsylvania budget. Which also means it could be the day that online poker and gambling is passed by the state legislature.
Online gambling, if not passed today, could still be considered at a later date, but it’s never had more momentum than it has right now.
This post will be updated as developments warrant surround the Pennsylvania budget situation and a potential gambling bill that would help generate revenue for the state budget.
Gambling waiting until fall?
Updated 7 p.m.
The Associated Press confirmed the earlier report that the gambling package would not be considered until the fall:
Legislation to make Pennsylvania the fourth state to legalize casino-style gambling on the internet will wait until the fall, but be counted on to provide $100 million for the state treasury…
Updated 6:20 p.m.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Browne indicated that gambling will be used for the budget, but won’t be voted on Tuesday night.
Mr. Browne signaled that the legislature will count on raising roughly $100 million from gambling expansion — but will not actually settle and vote on the legislation until the fall.
More taxes on land-based casinos?
Updated 6 p.m.
In the afternoon, Trib Live reported that some revenue would be generated by an increased tax on gaming revenue at casinos:
Another provision being considered: increasing the tax on table games in casinos from 12 percent to 14 percent, gambling lobbyists and legislative staffers said.
Meanwhile, the report indicated that “internet gambling … would help pay for the budget increases and mandated spending.”
Today could be it for the legislature this summer
Updated 5:50 p.m.
The reason why online gambling could have to wait months if it is not passed today? The statehouse could go on vacation.
According to Philly.com:
Rank-and-file legislators have said privately that they expect they will be dismissed for the summer after today if a deal cannot be reached.
Online gambling a ‘no-brainer’?
Updated 5:45 p.m.
The day started off well for the prospects for online gambling being including as part of the revenue plan to fund the state budget. Here’s what Rep. George Dunbar told CDC Gaming Reports:
State Rep. George Dunbar, R-Westmoreland County, called regulation of Internet gaming and Daily Fantasy Sports a “no-brainer” but said other proposals, such as locating slots at off-track-betting parlors, are more contentious.
Whether or not it’s a no-brainer, or if Dunbar’s portrayal is accurate, are up in the air today, however.
The background: PA, online gambling and the budget
The state legislature has already passed a spending plan for the fiscal year that started on July 1. And that plan for the state budget took effect when Gov. Tom Wolf allowed it to become law without his signature. (It was on his desk for 10 days without action, meaning it turned into law by his inaction.)
The problem with that? Politicians still have no agreement on how to pay for it. The state constitution, meanwhile, says it is illegal for the government to enact a budget that is unbalanced.
Online gambling, meanwhile, is one of the many things expected to bridge the gap between increased spending in the state and current revenue being generated.
In late June, House Republicans passed a massive gambling expansion package that included iGaming and daily fantasy sports regulation. The Senate, however, has failed to act on that bill for about two weeks, with rumblings it would put together its own gambling package.