In Pennsylvania, Sports Betting, Online Poker Stay Ahead Of Fantasy Sports Regulation

February 10, 2016
In Pennsylvania, Sports Betting, Online Poker Stay Ahead Of Fantasy Sports Regulation

While more than a third of states are moving to regulate the daily fantasy sports industry in some fashion, such an effort has not really taken hold in Pennsylvania.

At the same time, the state continues to consider myriad other gambling expansions included legalized sports betting and online poker and casino games.

Sports betting on PA’s agenda

The latest example that Pennsylvania’s focus is on just about anything other than DFS in the gambling world is a committee that passed a resolution calling for a repeal of the federal ban on sports betting — PASPA — on Tuesday morning.

Pennsylvania has been eyeing sports betting for several months — a bill that would legalize wagering in the state (if PASPA were repealed) was introduced in October, although it didn’t make any progress.

Part of the impetus in Pennsylvania? New Jersey could win an appeal that will be held next week in a federal court about its sports betting law.

If NJ wins, the court precedent would be binding in both Pennsylvania and Delaware, meaning PA could theoretically pass a law identical to New Jersey’s. And legal sports betting would likely follow quickly.

Online gambling and poker, also on PA’s agenda

Online poker, at the very worst, appears like it will get a look this spring as part of a larger gambling expansion package.

The topic of online gambling has been considered by the legislature seriously for the past year, including making its way to the full House before its momentum stopped late in 2015, as a potential way to help fund the budget in the state’s ongoing budget impasse. (Of note: PA is now working on its FY 2017 budget, even though the 2016 budget still isn’t fully funded.)

It’s certainly no guarantee that online poker legislation will get passed, but it’s clearly well ahead of DFS on lawmakers’ priority list.

Meanwhile, daily fantasy sports…

The topic of daily fantasy sports has been floating around the background in Pennsylvania since last spring. A bill was introduced that would have allowed casinos to offer fantasy sports contests, but it didn’t go anywhere.

Later, the idea to regulate DFS — and treat it somewhat like land-based casinos — was floated, but a bill never came to fruition. A committee hearing was held on the topic of DFS in November, but nothing really came of it.

Right now, the only apparently active DFS effort in PA is a resolution for the state “to conduct a comprehensive study on the potential of fantasy sports as a gambling product in this Commonwealth.”

So while there’s a rush to do something with the DFS industry in states across the country, Pennsylvania does not appear to be one of them — at least for now.

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