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Pennsylvania House of Representatives Approves Bill to Legalize Online Poker, DFS

07/08/2016

Pennsylvania House of Representatives Approves Bill to Legalize Online Poker, Daily Fantasy Sports; No Video Gaming Terminals

Last week, prospects improved for online poker legalization in Pennsylvania. On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed HB 2150, which outlines a plan to tax and regulate poker. It also includes provisions for other items such as Daily Fantasy Sports, airport slot machines, and betting in places outside of racetracks.

The bill had previously faced stern opposition for a clause that would have approved Video Gaming Terminals, having been shot down once before. However, without the Video Gaming Terminal clause, the House voted 114 to 85 in favor.

The bill was passed by the House of Representatives as Pennsylvania discusses how to fund a $31 billion budget. It is estimated that HB 2150, if signed into law, would bring $266 million into the state's coffers.

"It is about time — this legislation is long overdue. Pennsylvanians deserve robust consumer protections and today the Pennsylvania House delivered," stated John Pappas, who heads the Poker Players' Alliance. "Additionally, this legislation will create jobs and help the Commonwealth close its budget gap."

"This common sense legislation is a win-win for Pennsylvania. The online poker community urges the Senate and Governor Wolf to act swiftly to approve this measure," he added.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has taken a neutral stance on online gambling, ethically speaking. Unlike states such as its neighbor New York, which has battled online gaming pushes over "games of skill" arguments, Wolf's chief concern is balancing his state's budget. He recently wrote to the Poker Players' Alliance that he welcomes debate over legal poker, but that such debate "must be part of a larger revenue plan to help solve the state's deficit."

The bill has a reasonable chance to pass in the Senate, despite the fact that some members have voiced opposition to some of HB 2150’s provisions in separate cases in the past. After the Senate vote, Governor Wolf’s signature would be the last needed key to passage. Then, responsibility will be turned over to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Kevin O’Toole, leader of the PGCB, has estimated it will take between nine and twelve months to put all the pieces in place. Pennsylvania could then expect to offer online poker and daily fantasy sports in 2017.

 
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