Pennsylvania Representative John Payne Reports Online Poker Is on Track for Approval

Online poker gaming is something that the state of Pennsylvania has been discussing for some time. Since last year, the state has been poised to become the next to offer poker gaming online but legislation cannot seem to move forward and be passed into law to see the activity come to fruition. However, over the past few months, legislators have been strongly considering the option based on a number of factors, most notably that the state has a huge budget shortfall and revenues are needed which online poker can provide.

Representative John Payne has been working diligently to see online poker come to pass in the state and most recently spoke to PokerNews, stating that Pennsylvania is on track to pass online poker legislation. Payne has authored online poker bills in the past and it seems that the holdup now for legislation to pass is not online gaming but off-track betting parlors.

Earlier this week, the state finalized a revenue package of $1.3 billion to be used to fund a budget of $31.5 billion. In the package, language was included that placed $100 million for the budget to come from the expansion of online gambling.

The Senate has decided to come back on the 26th of September and work on legislation which would include online gaming instead of passing a bill that just moved through the House in June to make sure the funds that are needed will soon be in place. That state may decide to forgo online poker gaming and instead earn the money needed from a tax increase or decide to cut $100 million from spending.

Payne stated that legislators could decide to tax anything but he doesn’t know where they would get the votes just 60 days before election to be able to raise taxes. He is optimistic of the online gaming coming into play because $100 million was placed in the budget line and a public statement was made that shows the state is going to come back and do this, meaning online gambling.

Governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, did sign approval for the revenue package which had the gambling expansion language included. Payne stated that the $100 million is in line with the amount the state is expecting to receive from licensing fees when operators begin to show interest in offering online gaming. The 12 casinos located in the state will have the option to apply for a license to offer online gaming. However, it is expected that the Sands Bethlehem will not take part due to their connection with Sheldon Adelson and his anti-online gambling stance.

Payne’s online gaming bill, which was approved by the House Gaming Oversight Committee, did not include off-track betting parlors. However, the House floor leaders decided that online gaming needed to be included with daily fantasy sports gaming, slot machines at off-track betting parlors and airports adding slot machines, all combined to be a major gaming expansion.

Payne did not add the off-track betting parlors to his legislation initially due to the fact that he felt there was no fair way to do so. Category 2 and 3 gaming providers were not happy with the jump for category 1 establishments with the expansion language.

The senate has the option to make changes in the fall while reviewing the bill. The measure may go back to the House or go straight to the governor for approval. Whatever the case may be, we will be waiting until fall to see if the state of Pennsylvania will be moving forward with online poker gaming.