A Pennsylvania Online Gambling Vote Could Happen Soon

May 23, 2016
A Pennsylvania Online Gambling Vote Could Happen Soon

Online gambling legislation appears to be officially on the watch list in Pennsylvania, as chatter is ramping up regarding action in the state House of Representatives.

The backstory on online poker in PA, and what’s happening

Online poker and gambling have been on Pennsylvania’s radar for more than a year; that’s when iGaming legislation — HB 649 — was first introduced.

Late last year, that bill morphed into an omnibus gambling expansion bill. It already made it past a committee hearing and to the House floor.

The bill has been dormant ever since, but recent reports — including from bill sponsor Rep. John Payne — indicated it could see action as soon as June.

That timeline might have been accelerated, however. The Poker Players Alliance is attempting to activate players in the commonwealth:

Payne had remained optimistic on the iGaming even while the bill wason the shelf, previously. At one point, it was even a part of budget negotiations during a stalemate last year, because of the amount of revenue it could generate.

What’s next for the PA online gambling bill?

If the PPA is right, it could be amended and/or voted on as soon as Tuesday.

Despite its inaction, the gambling bill has stayed alive in the House through legislative procedures that kept it active and waiting on the chamber’s docket. So, in theory, and as the PPA intimated, it could be activated for a vote in the House at any time.

And if the bill comes up for a vote in front of the House, that likely means it has the support of House leadership and would get through the roll call with a positive outcome.

In the Senate, however, it faces a more uncertain future, especially if it remains a gambling expansion bill with some potentially unpopular elements. Those include an expansion of locations that could offer video gaming terminals.

If you are in Pennsylvania, the PPA has ways to contact your lawmaker regarding support of iPoker here.

Daily fantasy sports in the mix?

Whether daily fantasy sports is eventually included in iGaming discussions in Pennsylvania is also in question now.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board just released its report looking at how the legislature should attempt to regulate the DFS industry. That report specifically mentioned HB 649 and online gambling regulation, saying that it would make sense to handle DFS alongside that effort.

Since the report just came out, it’s unclear if DFS language can or would be inserted into current legislation that quickly.

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