As DOJ Appeals Wire Act Ruling, Pennsylvania Posts Its First Online Gambling Figures
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has recently posted its first-ever online gambling report after the state’s three licensed casinos went live in mid-July.
These venues are Parx Casino, SugarHouse Casino and Penn National Gaming’s Hollywood Casino.
In the first couple of week since the launch, players in Pennsylvania spent nearly $50 million – or $49.2 million, to be precise. $25.5 million was spent on table games, and $23.7 million on slots. Online slot games generated $518,000 in revenue, outpacing table games revenue, which amounted to $295,000. At this moment, there is no detailed information about online poker revenue.
The total online gambling revenue generated last month was $812,306, with SugarHouse claiming 54.5% of that sum or $443,000. Parx came in second with $260,000, while Hollywood earned $117,000.
The state’s portion of revenue in July amounted to $326,700, due to its tax regime. Under the provisions of the current law, there’s a 54% tax on online slots and a 16% tax on online tables. This is the reason why Penn National Gaming’s soon-to-be-appointed Chief Executive Officer said online gaming tax regime in Pennsylvania is making it very hard for operators to earn any money.
However, the state’s online gambling market has already come under threat by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
DOJ Doesn’t Want to Give up
Despite the ruling of the U.S. District Court in New Hampshire, the DOJ doesn’t give up on its opinion that the 1961 Wire Act applies to almost all forms of interstate online gambling. That’s why the DOJ plans to file an appeal on the court’s ruling that’s. If the appeal goes through, the DOJ will be able to implement its strict opinion on the scope of the Wire Act.
According to the DOJ’s interpretation, the Wire Act can be applied even on those forms of interstate iGaming that temporarily reroutes data out state. They will appeal to the First Circuit Court of Appeals, which will resume its business in October.
The appeal won’t cost the DOJ a single cent, as its paid by taxpayers, but since it doesn’t have any chance of succeeding, many are wondering what is the hidden agenda behind this move, as it’s obvious that Attorney General William Barr is simply wasting the department’s resources.
Many believe that the Trump administration is repaying its debt to Sheldon Adelson, American business magnate, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Las Vegas Sands. But above all, an important donator to the Republican Party. There are even those who claim the president himself is behind the latest move, as he hates losing any battle, no matter how trivial it may be – but these are mere speculations.
Commenting on this, founder of the industry trade association iDEA Growth, Jeff Ifrah said they hoped that, rather than engaging in a protracted, expensive and ultimately unsuccessful legal fight, the Department would take this opportunity to negotiate a settlement. He stated that it would focus the Wire Act and DOJ’s enforcement resources on the right targets – the unlicensed illegal offshore Internet gambling operators who did not create jobs or tax revenue in the U.S. and did not appropriately protect consumers.