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Pennsylvania Governor Dodges Online Poker Question, But Hopes Still High For 2017

Gov. Wolf Says 'Real Work Being Done' On Issue

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As Pennsylvania lawmakers work to iron out all the details for a gambling expansion package that would likely include online casino regulation, Pennsylvania’s governor is not looking to take a stance on the issue—at least not yet.

Keystone State Gov. Tom Wolf said during a Facebook Live question and answer segment that “real work is being done” on the internet gaming issue, but he didn’t give any real substance to his take on the state’s chances to bring gaming to the web.

“The deal is that whatever we do on this enhanced gaming, it should not take business away from our casinos or the lottery,” his said to the question from the Poker Players Alliance. “Otherwise why would we do it? Because we’re already getting revenues from that. It should be something that could be implemented cleanly, and the oversight we could do without being really that intrusive.”

Pennsylvania has 12 brick-and-mortar casinos, and nearly all are expected to venture into the online gaming space should the state let them do so.

“There are a lot of details that have to go into this,” Wolf added. “I know other states have done online poker and have done it successfully. We need to keep learning what we can from those states.”

If Pennsylvania only “keeps learning” about online poker in 2017 it would be a big disappointment to the poker community. The state has flirted with online poker for the past few years.

A budget proposal put forth by Wolf calls for $250 million from gambling expansion. Online casinos would generate $10 million for the state per licensee, in addition to tax revenue. Proposed rates have ranged from 15-25 percent. The market at maturation is estimated at $300 million.

Other possible ways to boost the state’s $3.2 billion gambling market include DFS regulation and allowing slot machines in more kinds of businesses in the state. Pennsylvania also wants to have sports books should the federal government end its near total ban on the industry.