PA Gambling Online is Still Uncertain
Pa Gambling Online? Not yet.
Residents in Pennsylvania wishing to enjoy online gambling will still need to wait. The fate of Pa gambling online is still uncertain as it awaits approval on the Senate floor. The House passed the Bill, HB 2150, in late June but it met opposition in the Senate.
Recently, Governor Wolfe signed the state’s $31 billion budget after refusing to do so previously. The revenue appropriations packages have yet to be finalized. With the legislature taking a recess until September, the future of the Pa gambling bill is still uncertain. Although $100 million is appropriated in the budget from additional gambling revenues, gambling expansion can still be nixed. If that happens, the programs utilizing the expected revenues will be cut.
Necessary Budget Fix
There are a number of forces at work when it comes to the fate of gambling expansion. A strong indicator of the likely passage is the fact that the line item has been secured in the current budget. Although this does not ensure this line item, the budget does hinge on the revenue streams. If they do not materialize, additional taxes will likely need to enacted to offset cuts. But, with an election year at hand, the likelihood of increasing tax rates any further is slim.
Opposition of the bill comes from a number of angles as well. Sands casino executive, Sheldon Adelson, is a strong opponent to expanding online gambling activities in the country. Adelson feels that this will hasten erosion of the player bases at the bricks and mortar casinos. In fact, he has threatened to curb future investment at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem if the bill passes. Other opposition to the expansion of gaming centers on the addition of VGT in OTB sites. Previous casino requirements set boundaries on where additional sites can be established. The VGT in OTB parlors may violate those previous requirements. In that case, competition is springing up within the sacred borders of the Sands Casino.
Ready and Able
Although the PA gambling online bill is still uncertain, operators are at the ready to turn on online activities. Most casinos in the state have a free play online site established already. It will only take some buttoning up on the part of the casinos to turn these sites from free play to real money. In fact, Mt Airy has already made the move to advertise real money games on its site with an agreement with 888 casino. The only caveat is that players must be in New Jersey to play and meet the age requirements.
When the legislative session resumes in September, expect some quick action on the gaming bill. With only a few weeks until the next recess, the line item revenues need to be secured before they go out again. If not, Pennsylvania’s will again be without a solid budget for 2016.