Online Gaming Continues To Be Pushed Back in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania State SealWhile Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware have provided online gaming options from poker to casino gaming for two years now, other states cannot seem to move forward with legislation. Several states including California and Pennsylvania have tried to pass legislation but have failed to move forward when it comes to actually legalizing online poker or casino gaming.

In Pennsylvania, several attempts have been made to try and pass online gaming. Bills have been introduced, such as the one by Representative John Payne. Hearings were scheduled this month to discuss the measures on the table such as the one by Payne, but unfortunately these hearings were cancelled.

A hearing of online gaming and poker was postponed last week due to the issues with daily fantasy sports gaming, and now, a hearing planned for this past Tuesday has been postponed as well. This was due to the issues with the state budget as it continues to logjam.

The hearings were not expected to be acted upon in regards to the proposed legislation on the table to potentially allow online lottery and gaming in the state of Pennsylvania. As the legislation continues to be postponed, players continue to be frustrated with the process. The push to adjust the state budget is so strong that the online poker and casino gaming legislation has just been pushed to the wayside. The state must figure out an option now to help with the budget impasse which has been taking place for several months now.

During 2015, Pennsylvania had quickly pushed to the forefront as the next state to offer online poker or overall gambling options. California was in the running to be next but had too many issues within the state in regards to the tribal interests, card rooms and race tracks to be able to come to a compromise to get moving on legislation.

From the beginning of the year, Payne had introduced HB 649 and even more bills were introduced after that. The bill created by Payne was considered to be the best option for the state to get started offering such gaming options. The bill would allow for full online casino operations as well as poker within the state borders. Regulation would be put in place with licensing of software providers that would allow operators to offer games and prevent such issues as internet cafes that could pop up after online gaming is introduced.

Following Payne’s actions, Representative Nick Miccarelli introduced his own bill, HB 695. This bill offered online poker and had a bad actor clause included. This would prevent any operator that offered online gaming after the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act was passed in 2006 to operate now. Payne was considering adding a bad actor clause but instead decided it was not needed after analyzing and investigating the offerings in Pennsylvania.

HB 920 was introduced by Representative Tina Davis and was a stricter version, and quickly became an unpopular choice by supporters of online gaming. Pennsylvania casinos with gaming licenses would be the only ones to offer online gaming and would have to pay $5 in the first year and then $500,000 for three years, each year. A 28% tax was part of this bill on gross daily revenues and the taxes would have been used for tax relief and other areas of the state.

The big issue with passing legislation in regards to online gaming in the state has been the budget impasse. The budget shortfall is around $2 billion, with Governor Tom Wolf wanting to raise taxes to gain control over the budget. The discussions are ongoing to find a resolution and it will most likely be 2016 before the discussions resume again for online gaming within the state.