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Pennsylvania Casinos about to push for online gambling legalization

May 23, 2014

Twelve casinos based in the state of Pennsylvania are in the process of formulating a draft plan for online gambling legalization but they still need to agree terms in time for a budget-season push.

According to multiple lobbyists, talks on online gambling are progressing, especially after a state-commissioned study has been released earlier in May, which found that online gambling would not cannibalize statewide gaming revenue. “I think there are some mature discussions going on between different players, one governmental relations executive said. Is it different from where it was before the study was released? Yes. But does this mean it’s going to happen? No”.

Land based casinos involved in the talks think that Pennsylvania should adopt a licensing model similar to New Jersey, under which Atlantic City casinos are the only entities eligible to apply for so-called "Internet gaming permits”. A point of view shared also by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB). "If Internet gambling is authorized in Pennsylvania by the legislature and the governor, we do advocate that the existing licensed casino operators be the authorized providers of that activity," PGCB executive director Kevin O'Toole told House Democrats at an informational hearing earlier this month. According to lobbyists, other issues such as the types of games to offer, the rate at which to tax them and issues related to so-called “bad actors”, have yet to be settled on.

Las Vegas Sands, Caesars Entertainment, Greenwood Gaming and Valley Forge Convention Center Partners will share their views on online gambling legalization on June 3 at an informal hearing in the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee, which handles gaming issues.

Pennsylvania is facing a $1.2bn-$1.4bn budget deficit in its 2014-2015 fiscal year, and Internet gambling, according to the recent study, could generate tax revenue of $68m in the first year and up to $110m in subsequent years.

Source: Gambling Compliance


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