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Pennsylvania Senator To Introduce Online Casino Bill

State To Once Again Study Legalization Of Real-Money I-Gaming

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The Pennsylvania legislature will once again consider regulating online casino games, after failing to do so over the past four years.

State Senator Jay Costa, a Democrat, said in a memorandum posted Jan. 2 that he will be using the online gambling bill that the House passed last year as “the base” for his legislation, which will officially hit the table in Harrisburg “in the near future.”

Though the House made serious progress with online gaming discussions in 2016, the measure died in the Senate with no action. Internet betting was grouped with other measures to beef up the Keystone State casino industry, as well as a fix for a local gaming tax issue. Costa’s bill will also attempt to accomplish those goals in order to “allow the Commonwealth’s gaming industry to continue to evolve and remain competitive in a responsible manner.”

Pennsylvania’s gambling market was relatively flat in 2016, but it’s still the second largest commercial casino industry in the country behind Nevada. In recent years, several states in the Northeast region have made major improvements to their respective casino industries, which has prompted Pennsylvania to find new revenue streams.

Likewise, lawmakers overseas in Australia and New Zealand are looking at beefing up regulations on internet gaming. Online casinos in New Zealand are booming, and for every jurisdiction that proves online gaming works, more decide to take a look at regulation.

Under Costa’s plan, each one of Pennsylvania’s 12 casinos could offer gaming over the web, so long as they receive the necessary approvals and pay a $10 million licensing fee. The state is anticipating 10 of the casinos to offer online gaming.

Vendors that contract with a casino to host the casino’s internet gaming platform will also be subject to licensure and a licensing fee of $5 million.

Internet gaming revenues will be taxed at a rate of 25 percent.

The bill would also authorize daily fantasy sports contests. A license fee of $2.5 million would be imposed, and the tax rate would also be 25 percent of revenue.

The Pennsylvania online gaming industry is projected to be worth $300 million annually.

Costa’s announcement came just days after Pennsylvania Republican Senator Kim Ward, another online gambling supporter, said lawmakers were going to meet to discuss the plan as soon as the New Year began. Rep. John Payne, who wrote last year’s bill, retired in November.