Pennsylvania Inches Closer To Online Gambling

Pennsylvania Inches Closer To Online GamblingWith a feasibility report studying the “current condition and future viability of gaming” in Pennsylvania due to be released on May 1st, there are some pretty compelling reasons to suggest The Keystone State could move to regulate online gambling this year.
Since introducing casino gambling in 2006, Pennsylvania may have grown to surpass New Jersey as the second biggest gambling market in the country, but last year Pennsylvania actually reported a 1.4% decline in casino revenues to $3.11 billion, compared to the previous year. Continuing the worrying trend, this year Pennsylvania’s slot machine revenues fell in both January (-7%) and February (- 7.54%), signalling the state may soon have to take some creative measures in order to protect its gambling industry.
Some of the factors cited for the recent downturn in the state’s casino revenues have included increased competition from neighboring states such as New York, Maryland, Ohio and Delaware, with gaming board spokesman Doug Harbach, commenting:
“There continues to be increased casino competition from all of Pennsylvania’s bordering states and that certainly is affecting year-over-year revenue.”
In addition to land-based casino expansion, the New York senate has already received a gambling bill professing the benefits of online gambling regulation, while nearby Delaware and New Jersey are already on board the internet gambling bandwagon. Last month, for example, New Jersey managed to generate $10.3 million from its online gambling operations and highlighting the threat to Pennsylvania, John Forelli, Vice President of NJ’s Borgata casino, said that since launching its sites in November, 2013, Borgata’s online gambling rooms have succeeded in reclaiming many of the customers it had lost to Pennsylvania’s casinos just across the border.
In spite of recent trends suggesting Pennsylvania should swiftly move to approve regulated online gambling, however, many major challenges still remain which could scupper the whole process, not least anti-online advocate state Rep. Mario Scavello, who enjoys the backing of billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.  Scavello has even called for fines and prison sentences for online gamblers, stating:
“Here again, online gambling is best described as the Wild West. Online, there’s no one around to keep an eye on someone who doesn’t know when to stop. I believe that if you hit people in their wallets, we can start to crack down on the lawbreakers.”
Nevertheless, other lawmakers in the state have been promoting online gambling as a means to keep pace with out of state competition, and so Pennsylvania’s feasibility study is bound to produce some fiery debates when it is eventually released next month.

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