Corman: Online Gambling in Pennsylvania “Won´t Happen”

PennsylvaniaPennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman has told NBC Philadelphia there is not enough support in the Senate to approve the expansion of gambling.

Depending on your view of whether your glass is half-full or half-empty, there was either good or bad news for regulated online gambling coming out of Harrisburg yesterday as the House of Representatives and the Senate attempted to reach a compromise on the six-month budget impasse.

The good news was that the House of Representatives´ Appropriations Committee reached an agreement on a proposed budget that included John Payne´s HB 649 to “authorize interactive gambling”. The bad news was that the Senate´s Appropriations Committee passed its own budget proposals that excluded any expansion of gambling.

The Senate´s version of the budget includes $500 million of unfunded spending and, when asked why the Senate was not considering the regulation of online gambling as a source of revenue, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman told reporters from NBC Philadelphia: “We don’t have the votes for that, I mean, that’s just plain and simple that won’t happen.”

Markosek: House Proposals “A Total Non-Starter”

The House´s proposed budget – the one that includes plans to regulate online gambling in Pennsylvania – was passed by the Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee late on Monday night. However, Joe Markosek – the Democrat Chair on the House Appropriations Committee – described it as a “non-starter”.

Markosek told reporters that Democrat Representatives had little time to review or discuss the rushed proposals before they were put to the vote. He said that Democratic Governor Tom Wolf would oppose them, as they fail to achieve his objectives of increasing spending on education.

Republicans in the House of Representatives have no objection to increasing spending education, but only if the funding is available for it. They are wary of a growing budget deficit and a growing tax burden on the state´s residents, and – as Republican Rep. Steve Bloom tweeted – there is plenty of animosity between the disagreeing factions.

Where Does That Leave Online Gambling

With both the Senate Majority Leader and the Democrat Chair on the Appropriations Committee saying that legislation containing proposals for the expansion of gambling is likely to be unsuccessful, the prospects for regulated online gambling in Pennsylvania are looking pretty slim – for the present at least. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Last month, leading gambling journalist Mark Gruetze wrote in a Op-Ed that “[geolink href=””]doing it right is better than doing it fast[/geolink]”. He added that the Pennsylvania legislature had the opportunity to set nationwide standards for “player protection, public accountability and reasonable tax rates” but, that by rushing through legislation, the debate would not get the scrutiny it deserved.

Gruetze comments that resorting to a crisis situation with crisis legislation was not the best solution for the state, for the casinos or for online gamblers, was to fall on deaf ears at the subsequent hearing of the [geolink href=””]state´s Gaming Oversight Committee[/geolink] – who passed Payne´s HB 649 with an 18-8 majority. At the time, advocates of regulated online gambling in Pennsylvania were celebrating the passage of the Act.

Now it seems the prospects for regulated online gambling in Pennsylvania have turned full circle. Those advocates who believed that their glass was half-full two weeks ago will be looking into the same glass this morning and bemoaning the fact that it is now half-empty!

Jacqueline Packett
Jacqueline Packett