The Future of Online Gambling in Pennsylvania Looks Grim

Posted on June 20th, 2013 by Todd Wilkins

The Future of Online Gambling in Pennsylvania Looks GrimSources report that online gambling legislation in Pennsylvania will not likely be addressed until 2015.

The online gambling community suffered a huge blow today, as Rep. Tina Pickett announced that she doesn’t feel the time is right to bring online gambling to Pennsylvanian households. Pickett, who acts as the chair on the Gaming Oversight Committee for the PA House, said that she feels more comfortable taking a wait and see approach.

Pickett went onto state that she doesn’t think the bill proposed by Rep. Tina Davis will make it through her committee anytime during 2014. Unless she has a radical change of heart, it is unlikely that residents of PA will be able to take part in online gambling until at least 2015 – and perhaps much longer.

House Bill 1235, introduced in the PA House of Representatives in April, would amend the PA Gaming Act to allow for a wide variety of table games – poker, slots and blackjack among them. In fact, any game already approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board could be featured online. The bill would also allow PA to work with other states to form interstate gaming compacts.

Unfortunately, the bill was met with harsh criticism. Thanks to tax rates of 28% and application fees in the millions, it was feared that most online gaming companies would opt to do business in states with more acceptable rates. For instance, in New Jersey the application fee is a paltry $400,000 with tax rates hovering around 15%. Ironically, the proposed licensing fee is actually a drastic improvement over the original proposal, which would charge those looking to enter the market a staggering $16.7 million.

Additionally, only casinos that operated slot machines would be issued licenses. Other companies interested in participating would likely face overwhelming obstacles.

But even if the bill undergoes further amendments, it is still not likely to be passed anytime soon, primarily due to Pickett’s conservative stance. Pickett has indicated that she’d rather see how online gambling fares in neighboring states New Jersey and Delaware before making any concrete decisions. If gambling havens like Atlantic City flounder because of online gambling she will likely reject any online gambling legislation.

Her vantage point comes as little surprise, as in recent years live gambling in Pennsylvania has thrived. To date, 11 casinos have been opened in the Keystone State, with a 12th to follow on July 1st. If anything, her statements prove just how carefully state governments will be watching how online gambling in fares in Nevada and New Jersey.

Pennsylvania’s hesitant attitude indicates bigger problems for legislation in other states. Although bills have been proposed in many states, most of them are just waiting to be rejected. Pickett’s public statement only proves that the United States at large will be fighting a long uphill battle. Considering that Pennsylvania largely supports gambling and has a large player base, it is unlikely that states where gambling is not as widespread will be introducing legislature anytime soon.

For now, citizens of PA will have to content themselves with visiting one of the state’s many live casinos. See you in 2015.

Comments are closed.