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Another Online Casino Gambling Bill Introduced In Pennsylvania

Efforts Heat Up To Bring Online Poker To State

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Keystone State lawmakers now have a third online poker bill to chew on.

The legislation, Senate Bill 524, that was introduced Monday attempts to end a years-long debate that has included more than 80 hearings on how to bolster Pennsylvania’s casino industry in the face of flat gaming revenues and increasing competition from nearby states.

Pennsylvania is the second largest casino gambling market in America, but the market has been at about $3 billion since 2011. Pennsylvania has 12 casinos, and all of them would be allowed to venture into online betting under legislative proposals.

The other online gambling bills on the table are Senate Bill 477 and House Bill 392. They both were introduced, separately, just weeks ago. Proposed tax rates are between 14 and 25 percent.

Lawmakers are set to meet again next week to discuss online gambling, in addition to gambling expansion ideas such as allowing slot machines at bars and restaurants across the state. Pennsylvania could also regulate daily fantasy sports.

There’s also a gaming tax issue that needs to be fixed. Last year, the courts determined that a local share tax that casinos pay to their host communities is unconstitutional because it affects some casinos differently. State lawmakers are tasked with finding a way to keep the money flowing to casino communities.

Officials believe that online gambling could add $300 million annually to the state’s gambling market. Online gaming backers argue that internet betting can increase revenue at brick-and-mortars as well.

Pennsylvania has a live poker market worth nearly $60 million a year.

Ten of the state’s 12 casinos are behind online gambling.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said in February that “real work is being done” on the internet gaming issue. A budget proposal put forth by Wolf calls for $250 million from gambling expansion.