PA iGaming Bill May Be Included in Budget

PennsylvaniaThere may be hope for online gambling regulation in Pennsylvania this year, as a PA lawmaker believes his proposal may be tacked onto a budget deal.

Pennsylvania Rep. John Payne told that HB 649, an online gambling bill that he introduced earlier this year, could find its way to inclusion in the state’s final budget. The budget package continues to be a work in progress as lawmakers discuss the best ways to balance the ledger.

Payne believes the Keystone State would be wise to permit its residents to legally gamble online. He pointed out that Pennsylvania gamblers continue to patronize unregulated sites located in other countries, with the revenue going to unknown entities perhaps as shady as the Islamic terrorist group, ISIS.

With a revenue projection of a possible $40 million each year via taxes and licensing, regulated online gaming would go a long way toward smoothing out budget shortfalls in Pennsylvania. But will enough lawmakers be on board with the proposal, allowing the state to join Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada in regulation?

I still feel very comfortable that some forms of gaming will be part of the final budget, Payne stated.

Pennsylvania and [geolink href=””]California[/geolink] have made the most noise this year with regard to joining the online poker and gambling party. But the latter continues to be stymied by powerful Indian tribes who refuse to share anticipated revenue with the horse racing industry, as well as outside interests that include PokerStars.

[geolink href=””]New York[/geolink] is another state that may enter the igaming regulation discussions in the not too distant future following an online poker hearing held by a Senate committee [geolink href=””]just one week ago[/geolink]. However, that hearing was sparsely attended by legislators and was seen as more of laying the groundwork for continued ipoker talks in 2016 and beyond.

Pennsylvania lawmakers had their own online gaming hearing in June, but continue to move slowly on the issue. That mirrors the process followed in the other regulated states, as moving a bill from introduction to passage is a long, drawn out process.

The best solution for regulation in the U.S. would be legalization at the federal level, which would allow states to either opt in or out rather than taking it upon themselves to draft and implement legislation. But federal lawmakers have balked at such a maneuver, with some influenced by Sheldon Adelson and his Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.

Jacqueline Packett
Jacqueline Packett