It’s been a long time coming but the wait is officially over. A Pennsylvania online poker bill passed a House vote on Thursday and was signed, sealed, and delivered by Governor Tom Wolf on Monday.
House Bill 271, sponsored by Rep. Jason Ortitay (R-46th District), permits significant gambling expansion in the northeastern state. Pennsylvania has 12 land-based casinos and will soon add up to 12 online casinos.
All About the New Law
Those eligible for a license to operate an internet casino, for a $10 million fee, will be permitted to offer slot machines, poker games, and table games to customers located within the state’s borders.
Online casino operators have the option to offer poker only, and a licensing fee will cost $4 million. The server used by the casino must be located in Pennsylvania.
The state will begin regulating daily fantasy sports sites such as DraftKings and FanDuel. In the past, DFS sites had free reign to conduct business without regulation.
The topic of legalized sports betting nationwide has been discussed in recent months. H 271 will position Pennsylvania to offer sports betting should a federal bill pass.
At this time, only Nevada has legalized sports betting with sportsbooks all across the state. Millions of people travel to Las Vegas and other Silver State cities to get some action on ballgames. Pennsylvania would like to steal away some of that tourism.
The main purpose, other than making poker players happy, of this bill is to ensure the current state budget is met. Revenues from the online casinos will be taxed as such:
Online Poker (16 percent of gross revenues)
Online Table Games (16 percent)
Online Slot Machines (54 percent*)
*Matches tax rate for brick-and-mortar casinos in Pennsylvania
What’s Next for Pennsylvania?
New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware, the three current states will legal internet poker, will soon be entering into a pact that allows the states to share player pools. This agreement was made prior to Pennsylvania passing H 271.
But it stands to reason lawmakers in the Keystone State would see the benefits of shared liquidity. The aforementioned states signed the agreement to help boost revenues.
Pennsylvania has a $60 million poker industry that should grow exponentially once the online poker sites open. It is assumed that casino operators will immediately begin applying for a license. The state has the right to decline an applicant.