US Gambling Expansion Watch

U.S. Gambling Expansion WatchThe spread of online poker legislation in the U.S. has stalled, with only one state currently considering active bills pertaining to ipoker.

However, there has been activity in other states related to the expansion of gambling, both land-based and online. We took a look at some of that legislative action, with a focus on Pennsylvania and Indiana.

Pennsylvania Public Hearings

Pennsylvania held two legislative hearings on Internet gambling in 2014 and made the most progress perhaps of any other state last year. While it is expected that the issue will be raised at some point again this year, the matter currently takes a back seat to hearings related to land-based gambling next month.

In March, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ Gaming Oversight Committee will hold two hearings open to the public that will look at keeping Keystone State casinos competitive. Pennsylvania is ranked no. 2 in gaming revenue behind Nevada, ousting New Jersey from that position in recent years.

But Pennsylvania is now experiencing the same problems that rocked the boat in Atlantic City, namely, loss of revenue due to competition from casinos in neighboring states. State officials will look at ways to stave off the problem and have invited citizens to provide input.

Those hearings are both set for March 18 in Philadelphia. Harrah’s Casino will play host to the first meeting at 9:00 a.m., while the renowned SugarHouse Casino is the gathering place for a 2:00 p.m. pow-wow.

The same committee has also lined up an agenda for April, with one hearing focused on igaming and two more on other topics. “Internet Gaming and Mobile Gaming” will be at the center of a discussion on April 16.

Prior to that on April 1, “Games of Skill vs. Games of Chance” will be debated. Toward the end of the month on April 21, a hearing will be held regarding restrictions related to casino ownership.

Indiana Online Horse Racing Bill

The Indiana General Assembly approved a bill that permits Internet wagering on horse racing by an 81-15 vote. HB 1270, if approved by the Senate and Governor Mike Pence, would allow Indiana residents to conduct advanced deposit wagering online, as opposed to having to place bets only while at the state’s racetracks or off-track betting (OTB) parlors.

HB 1270 sailed through without a debate and may do likewise in the Senate. However, the bill might not cross the finish line when it reaches the desk of Gov. Pence, who has been outspokenly against online gambling initiatives.

Pence voted aye for the UIGEA in 2006 and also stands in the camp of Sheldon Adelson on the anti-online gambling federal legislation known as the Restoration of Americas Wire Act (RAWA). Hoosiers who hope to soon play regulated online poker can likely forget about that happening while Pence remains in office.

Jacqueline Packett
Jacqueline Packett