Pennsylvania iGambling Bill Passes House Vote

On Thursday, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted in favor of a piece of legislation that seeks to allow internet gambling and daily fantasy sports betting in the state. HB 1887 was approved by a margin of 110 to 71 in the House, but must now still be given a green light in the Senate when it reconvenes for one day on November 16th if it is to stand any chance of passing into law this year.
Commenting on the development, Drew Compton, general counsel for the Senate Republicans, stated that the Senate would “definitely come back in a few weeks and take a look at [the amended bill], but we still haven’t decided whether to vote on it.”
Amongst the issues included in the bill was a fix to deal with a Supreme Court ruling which stated that imposing different levels of tax on casinos according to their size violated the state constitution. Currently, the larger of Pennsylvania’s 12 casinos pay 2% of their slots revenue as a local municipal tax, while smaller operations are hit with a $10 million minimum tax bill, even though no casino in the state has ever generated more than $500 million in yearly slots revenue.
HB 1887 also favors a gambling expansion throughout the state, including the legalization of internet gambling and DFS wagering. Nevertheless, the Pennsylvania Senate has opposed similar proposals in the past, and there is no guarantee that it will receive any better a reception this time around.
Complicating matters further is the fact that Sands Bethlehem casino owner, Sheldon Adelson, vehemently opposes online gambling legalisation, while another Pennsylvania casino owner suggested last week that if approved then casinos should only feature their own brands online, and not rely on branded skins offered by out-of-state online partners. Elaborating further, Eric Schippers, Penn National Gaming’s senior VP of government relations, explained that online gambling operators “have no incentive to drive business back to brick-and-mortar casinos.” Needless to say, there are many challenges to still overcome before online gambling is approved and finally becomes a reality in the Keystone State.

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