PA Moves Closer to Finalizing State Budget; Will iGaming be in the Mix?

PennsylvaniaA decision is expected to be made this week on Pennsylvania’s final budget measure, which could legalize online gambling in the state.

The Pennsylvania state budget impasse seems to be over but this might not be good news for online gambling proponents. For weeks now, talks have been ongoing as to how to complete the state budget with gambling expansions expected to be included, particularly online gambling.

A little more than a week ago, the House and Senate agreed on the framework in which to create the $32 billion budget.  On the following day, this spending bill moved through the Senate with a vote of 43 to 7, with the House passing the measure through on a 173 to 27 vote just hours later.

[geolink href=””]HB 218 was passed on June 30th[/geolink] and explains how much money will be spent within the 2017-18 budget. The bill does not explain where the money will come from, but according to many media outlets there is a good chance that iGaming will assist in this process mightily, provided the details can be worked out.

It is important to note that the bill passed within the state legislature is more of a spending bill than a budget. However, the two essentially work in hand in hand, with a balanced budget needing to be worked out before the governor can approve it.

Could HB 218 Help PA Legalize Online Gambling?

A gaming reform package in Pennsylvania has been under discussion for several weeks now. The House and Senate have different ideas as to how gambling should be expanded upon within the state. Both sides have their own bills as to how gambling should be used to help the state budget. The House and Senate measures look to be much of the same but there are also points of contention.

Both seek to repair the local share tax problem as well as legalize and regulate online gambling. Both would legalize and regulate DFS, as well as allow the state lottery to sell their products online. Table gaming would be allowed at specific airports in the state with the Category 3 amenity requirement removed for a one-time paid fee.

While both groups agree on basically everything, there is one major point of contention: video gaming terminals. Known as “VGT’s,” the House wants to see such gaming allowed at the majority of businesses that have a liquor license. This would create as many as 40,000 new slot games for the state. This would be a massive expansion of the gambling industry and the Senate is not on board. This issue could potentially hurt the entire gaming reform package of the state.

Many sources are reporting that a compromise is on the horizon that would be good for online gambling in the state. Basically, VGT’s would not be included in the final bill and online gambling should be tacked on to the final measure. This would not be a surprising turn of events as the governor of the state is not fond of any VGT expansion and most casino operators share this same belief.

For online gaming proponents, now it’s basically a waiting game to see what the state Legislature will do, with a decision possibly coming this week.

Jacqueline Packett
Jacqueline Packett