Pennsylvania Online Gambling Bill Details

John Mehaffey March 2, 2015 1186 Reads

Update 3/2/2015: Chris Krafcik tweeted that a corrected version of HB649 removed the poker-only definition.  The new bill would legalize poker and casino games.

The language of the Pennsylvania online gaming bill introduced this week emerged Thursday. State Representative John Payne (R-106) filed HB 649. The bill legalizes online poker and casino games through its definition of interactive gaming.

A hearing on the topic is scheduled in the House Gaming Oversight Committee on April 16. Rep. Payne is the chairman of that committee.

Players must be 21 years of age or older to sit at real money tables. The standard geolocation software used in other states would be required to ensure that a player is located in Pennsylvania at the time of play.

Taxes and Licensing Fees

The existing casinos in Pennsylvania automatically qualify for an interactive gaming license. Participation would require a $5 million licensing fee. Vendors that provide online poker software, player lists, or substantial services must post a $1 million fee. Revenue share affiliates would require vendor licensing.

Pennsylvania could choose to use labs already used in other states to help approve software and enforce regulations. This would help speed up the process of getting sites online.

The tax rate in Pennsylvania would be 14% under the bill. Bonuses would be deductible from gross gaming receipts. Tax payments must be submitted weekly.

Unlicensed Sites Targeted

It would become specifically illegal by state law to offer unlicensed online gaming. Sites that continue to operate in Pennsylvania without a license must still submit taxes to the state. This does not give the illegal operators immunity from prosecution.

Player Penalties

Players could face penalties if caught giving action to offshore sites. Any funds related to unlicensed play is subject to forfeiture. Any seized funds would go towards problem gambling services.

Problem Gambling

Problem gambling notices must be placed prominently in the software. This includes the 1-800-GAMBLER number in visible locations, including at the time a player logs into the software.

Internet Cafes

Internet cafes specializing in providing a venue for online gambling would be prohibited. Licensed sites would be permitted to create areas for interactive gaming on casino premises.

Interstate Player Pools

The Pennsylvania online poker bill specifically addresses pooling players with other states. It includes a policy for taxing that action. International liquidity sharing is not included.

No Bad Actor

There is no bad actor clause within the bill. This fits into the recent Caesars Entertainment decision to not lobby against PokerStars.

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