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Pennsylvania Online Gambling must wait

Pennsylvania Online Gambling must wait

By on Jun 6, 2016

Pennsylvania online gambling or fantasy sports will need to wait

HARRISBURG:  In an effort to legalize Pennsylvania online gambling and fantasy sports, the House put forth legislation that was defeated. The two amendments would allow those over 21 to wager online within the Commonwealth.   As a result, motions were passed to reconsider the two amendments next month.

With the budget woes that have been front page in Pennsylvania for over a year, gambling expansion is, once again, expected to give a boost to the revenue streams. Controversial tax increase sought by Democratic Governor Tom Wolfe has sparked renewed interest in Pennsylvania online gambling. As evidenced by Pennsylvania’s eastern neighbor, online gambling expansion in New Jersey generated new revenue streams for the state by means of the added gambling taxes.

The latest moves by the House defeated the first amendment that would have allowed video slot machines at taverns, social clubs and fire house.  It fell by a vote of 122 to 66. The second bill, that was also rejected by a narrower margin of 107 to 81.  This bill would have permitted slot machines at off track betting sites as well as airport terminals. State Republicans have supported gambling expansion activities as a means to counter budget shortfalls.  Therefore, Republicans will now need to reach across the aisle for a suitable compromise.

Bill Modifications to Follow

Senator John Payne is a representative from the 106th District of Pennsylvania.  In addition, he also serves as the Chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee.  Payne expects that a modified version of the bill will be approved by July. In dire need of tax revenue, lawmakers are forced to look to new gambling revenue streams in lieu of raising taxes in election year. Payne states that since internet gambling is already occurring in the state without any taxes being paid, Pennsylvania needs to come onboard.

Others though are not as enthusiastic about expanding online gaming. The bricks and mortars casinos are split on their view of the online expansion. The Sands Casino in Bethlehem see the increased ability to gamble online as a threat to their casinos. “Internet gambling is a job killer that seeks to move jobs from casinos in Pennsylvania to server farms in foreign countries,” Sands Bethlehem CEO Mark Juliano said at a roundtable discussion last year.

His views parallel those of the Sands International CEO, Sheldon Adelson, who is vehemently opposed to online activates. Adelson has been one of the proponents of the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, RAWA for short. In such, the view that online gambling activates are not prohibited under the act would be abolished. Other Casino operators have mixed opinions, unlike the Sands.  If online gambling is controlled by the casinos, this provides additional revenues and protect against foreign play.

Same Arguments

Several legislators and local leaders have expressed concerns regarding online activates.  These arguments are old hat to the gaming industry. In 2007, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board acting under the auspices of “Act 71” approved both racinos and stand-alone casinos under similar opposition. The first racinos approved were Harrah’s (Chester Downs) in Chester, Presque Isle in Erie, Penn National near Harrisburg, Parx Casino near Philadelphia and the Downs Racing later known as the Mohegan Sun in Wilkes-Barre. On the same day, five stand-alone operations were approved. They were Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Mount Airy Resort in Stroudsburg, the Rivers Casino in Pittsburg, Foxwoods and Sugarhouse, both in Philadelphia. For more details see PA Approved First Gaming License &
PA GAMING CONTROL BOARD APPROVES 11 PERMANENT OPERATOR LICENSES

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