Pennsylvania Online Poker Bill Clears Committee
House Gaming Oversight Committee Votes 18-8
A bill in Pennsylvania to legalize and regulate online gaming was approved Wednesday morning by the House Gaming Oversight Committee.
Lawmakers voted 18-8 in favor of the legislation, according to the Poker Players Alliance, a D.C.-based lobbying group for the card game.
The bill moves to a potential full House vote. If successful there, it will go to the Senate for consideration. If the Senate approves it, Gov. Tom Wolf will have it on his desk to veto or sign into law.
The legislation, HB 649, could still become part of a larger bill aimed to help resolve the 2016 budget gridlock in the Keystone State. Other gambling reform ideas on the table in Harrisburg include slots at airports, online lottery sales and daily fantasy sports regulation.
“With the passage of HB 649, the House Gaming Oversight Committee has proven their commitment to providing Pennsylvania residents with a safe and regulated place to play online poker within their own borders,” PPA executive director John Pappas said in a statement. “The PPA thanks Chairman John Payne and the Committee for their leadership. Now this bill needs to become law. The safety of consumers and the fiscal health of Pennsylvania will be vastly improved when Internet gaming is appropriately licensed, regulated and taxed. It is our hope that the legislation will be enacted on its own or as part of the state’s 2016 budget by the end of this year.”
The budget deficit could be as bad as $2 billion.
Pennsylvania determined that regulated online gaming would eventually be a $300 million market, helping shore up revenues for the state’s casino industry. Pennsylvania has 12 brick-and-mortar casinos, but another is in the pipeline in Philadelphia.
Those revenues would add roughly 10 percent to the state’s casino gambling market, worth around $3 billion annually. Revenues have flattened over the past two years.
Rep. John Payne, the sponsor of HB 649, told Card Player that 11 out of the 12 casinos in the state are either in support or neutral to online casino games.
If it legalizes online poker, Pennsylvania would be the fourth state in the country to do so, joining Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey. The latter recently licensed PokerStars.
It was said during a previous hearing this year that it would take 9-12 months before online gaming launches, after the state approved the activity.
Bill to regulate online poker (and other casino games) passes house committee by 18-8 vote!!! Great work everyone!
— PokerPlayersAlliance (@ppapoker) November 18, 2015
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