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Pennsylvania Online Gambling Bill Stalls

Pennsylvania Online Gambling Bill Stalls

By on Jul 11, 2016

Pennsylvania Online Gambling Bill Waits for Approval

Pennsylvania online gambling is stalled in the state Senate.  As of Sunday, Governor Wolfe has stated that he would let the budget go through without his signature.  In the absence of the Governor’s signature, the budget will go into law by default.   The appropriations package to fund the budget has yet to be hammered out.  As a result, there remains a $1.4 billion shortfall in revenues to balance this year’s budget.  Increases to tobacco taxes, and new revenues from the expansion of liquor sales in the State are included in the revenue stream.

State lawmakers are looking for ways to fill the void.  Increases in taxes are a difficult pill for all to swallow in the election year.  Consequently, the Pennsylvania online gambling bill passed the House in late June as a new recurring revenue stream.  With expectations of over $200 million in new revenues generated, the gambling bill would be a big step in balancing the budget.

The House Bill was met with a lukewarm response by both the Senate and Governor.  Opposition remains to any Pennsylvania online gambling.  Many doubt the sustainability of the revenue streams.  Others are just diametrically opposed to any expansion of gambling in Pennsylvania.  The Sands Casino in Bethlehem has expressed their opposition.  Not only do they oppose additional slots in offsite center but the Sands is deadest against online gambling in Pennsylvania.

Entrenched Opposition

The Sands leadership has been a strong voice in the opposition to online gambling in the United States.  The CEO, Sheldon Adelson, has led an effort to retract the current interpretation of the Wire Act, RAWA.  In such, he contends that if the Wire Act is interpreted as written, online gambling activities would, once again, be illegal.  The Sands have openly stated that they will curb any future investment in the Bethlehem site.  The site was one of the largest brownfields in the country until the Sands developed the site.  Future expansion is now in jeopardy.

So what’s next for Pennsylvania online gambling?  The best option at this point is for the Bill to clear the Senate.  The Governor can approve the Bill once that is completed.  With the dire need for new revenue streams, it is hard to believe that some type of gambling bill will not be part of this budget.  Many have counted on the revenues from Pennsylvania online gambling coming to fruition.  Without this revenue stream, lawmakers may look to other bills on the floors or increases in taxes. Either cases seem unlikely though.

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