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Pennsylvania Internet Gambling Bill SB 1386 Introduced In Senate

June 19th, 2014 Author:

Pennsylvania Internet Gambling Bill SB 1386 Introduced In SenateEarlier this month State Sen. Edwin Erickson announced his intention to present internet poker bill Bill 1386 to the Pennsylvania Senate, a promise which he has now fulfilled, albeit in a slightly expanded form than its original poker-only format.

In the new version of the Bob Mensch (R- Montgomery) co-sponsored bill, there now appears a proviso which would also allow for other internet gambling games to be considered by the state, even though the overall slant of SB 1386 is still aimed at the online poker industry.

In addition to the surprise development, a number of other less controversial proposals were also included, such as charging prospective companies an initial $5 million licensing fee, with 14% of their subsequent gross gaming revenues then being collected in taxes. Furthermore, the bill allows Pennsylvania to form interstate poker compacts with other regulated US states, and envisages no criminal penalties for gamblers playing on unlicensed, offshore websites.

Also included is a strongly worded ‘bad actor’ clause which prohibits companies which operated in the US post 2006 from being granted an igaming license. Operators  with a “presumption of unsuitability” extends to those companies which:

“Purchased or acquired, directly or indirectly, in whole or in significant part, a third party described in paragraph (1) or will use that third party or a covered asset in connection with interactive gaming.”

Needless to say, that language could spell bad news for PokerStars which sought to throw off its tainted US reputation after its recent acquisition by Amaya Gaming.

In the meantime, industry experts have been assessing whether SB 1386 stands a better chance of succeeding than the last online gaming bill presented by State Representative Tina Davis, which stalled last year. This time around, however, there appears to be a stronger sense of optimism, with Pennsylvania’s huge $1.2 billion budget deficit cited as a catalyst for regulation. According to an Econsult feasibility study, for instance, Pennsylvania stands to earn an additional $129 million in annual revenues if it takes the plunge and joins the other regulated igaming states of Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey.

As the Erickson’s SB 1386, states: “Developments in technology and recent legal decisions have created an opportunity to legalize interactive poker as a means to further enhance and complement the benefits delivered by casino gaming, licensed facilities and the communities in which they operate.”

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