Over the last while, Pennsylvania has been on the verge of passing bills to legalize online gambling in their state. It seems that the time has finally come. This week the state is scheduled to vote on HB649, which would allow online gambling in Pennsylvania.
According to the Poker Players Alliance, the Pennsylvania Gaming Oversight Committee will be leading the vote, and it is expected to pass. Pennsylvania has been working towards getting a bill on the table for months now and after constant delays it has finally made it to the front.
If passed, HB 649 would allow online poker sites to begin doing business in Pennsylvania. This bill would do three things:
- It would provide operator licenses purchasable for 5$ million with a 14% tax rate on all gaming revenue.
- Online gambling operators will be able to partner with brick and mortar casinos, which should bring additional business to each of the partners.
- This bill would also provide legal options to crack down on unlicensed online gambling operators.
A few other ideas were discussed and may be included in the bill in some form or another as well. These other options focused mainly on ways Pennsylvania could boost their income. The list includes online lottery sales, DFS legalization, regulation games of skill, increasing the number of hours that a casino can serve alcohol, and lowering regulation on the casinos already in place. It will be interesting to see what is decided for these additions to HB 649.
If the bill does get passed, then the House Gaming Oversight Committee will need to decide if it should be a standalone bill or added as a part of the state’s 2016 budget. Once this vote passes, it will then be voted on by the house, and following that be voted on by the state Senate. Finally, if it passes all of the previous votes, the bill would be sent to Governor Tom Wolf. Since the state budget is now late now and it is already well into November, it would not be surprising to see a compromise option between legislators and the governor that may include online gambling laws.
Pennsylvania knows that by following the examples of states such as New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware, they could make a considerable amount of extra revenue from online gambling taxes. With the added benefit of having better track of who is licensed, and more ways to stop the unlicensed operators, there is no reason that this bill should not pass. From where things stand it looks like HB 649 could be just what Pennsylvania needs to finalize their new budget.
If all goes well and Pennsylvania ends up legalizing online gambling they will become the fourth state to do so. This will be a great asset to other states as they will have even more players available with which to compete against on the various online poker sites.
Will Pennsylvania be the fourth state to legalize online gambling? Let us know what you think in the comments below.