Pennsylvania Could Legalize Online Gambling In March

Publish: 20.01.2017

Pennsylvania’s efforts to regulate online gambling and daily fantasy sports might finally reach their fruition.  Mario Scavello, chairman of the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee in Pennsylvania implied that this issue might be resolved as soon as March. With two draft bills in the picture, one by Senator Kim Ward and another by Senator Jay Costa, Pennsylvania is looking to become the biggest US state that allow online gambling.

The idea and the first draft bill came from now retired Republican Representative John Payne who has been an avid advocate of legalizing online gambling and Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS). His proposals went through a lot of discussion and amendments, passed the House of Representatives with the majority of votes twice but failed to pass the Senate. This year, the new legislative session saw Senator Jay Costa continue Payne’s fight by drafting his own proposal which relies to last year’s draft bill to a great extent. It aims to regulate tax-related issues by introducing a 25% tax on online gambling revenue with the licensing fee of $10,000,000 and $5,000,000 for independent online platform operators who enter into partnerships with licensed casinos. The licensing fee for Daily Fantasy Sports would be $2.5 million according to this proposal. Online gambling activities allowed would entail all forms of online casino gaming including table games and slots. The draft bill would also allow for gambling on airports.

The second proposal comes from Senator Kim Ward, who covers the same points as Costa, though she does not agree with increasing the current tax rate of 15% as she believes that the levy on the casinos is high enough and that the boost in gambling revenue should be achieved by focusing on expansion. With its 12 licensed casinos Pennsylvania is right behind Nevada in annual revenue generated from gambling. Ward’s opinion is that this brings great benefit to the state and that the prospective regulations should not endanger it. Scavello seconds that and feels optimistic about the future of the proposed bills: “Sometime in March, we’ll have something done and passed in the House and Senate. It looks like online gaming has the support to pass. We can look at other expansions.”