Pennsylvania iGambling Bill HB 649 Passes State House CommitteeNovember 19, 2015 12:38 pm
On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee approved online gambling bill, HB 649, by a vote of 18-8, moving the state one step closer to setting up its own legal and regulated online gambling industry. The bill’s author, State Rep. John Payne (photo), also chairs the body which approved HB 649, and following the positive vote, commented:
“We’re not authorizing it. we going to regulate it. I want to protect the children and the compulsive gamer.”
Nevertheless, gaining House Gaming Oversight Committee approval is just one in a series of challenges HB 649 must overcome before Pennsylvania’s almost 13 million residents will be able to enjoy playing poker and casino games online. Next, the bill will have to receive a full House vote, followed by Senate approval, before Governor Tom Wolf decides whether to veto the bill, or sign it into law.
There are plenty of reasons why Pennsylvania might finally decide to adopt iGaming legislation, too. Not only has it surpassed New Jersey as the country’s second largest casino market, but the Keystone State may also be encouraged to enter the online arena, buoyed by the success of its neighbor’s iGaming market which generates in excess of $12.5 million each month. Pennsylvania has almost 4 million more residents than New Jersey, and according to estimates it could generate upwards of $120 million in its first year of operation, which is an important source of extra income for a state currently facing a $2 billion budget deficit.
In addition to online gambling, HB 649, also includes an expansion of the state’s land-based gambling industry, including allowing slots machines at Pennsylvania airports, a move that John Payne believe will funnel an extra $700 million each year into state coffers.
Following the passage of HB 649 through the House Gaming Oversight Committee, PPA executive director John Pappas said: “Now this bill needs to become law. The safety of consumers and the fiscal health of Pennsylvania will be vastly improved when Internet gaming is appropriately licensed, regulated and taxed. It is our hope that the legislation will be enacted on its own or as part of the state’s 2016 budget by the end of this year.”