Pennsylvania Online Gaming

Pennsylvania is widely seen as a state likely to license and regulate online gaming in the near future. Since first bringing casino gaming to the state last decade, Pennsylvania has consistently expanded the amount of gaming in the state. The state started with slot machines, then added table games, and then authorized its bars and taverns to offer limited forms of gaming. Each step was deemed necessary, either to protect the nascent industry or to expand revenue coming into the state.

State lawmakers have shown a similar pragmatic approach to online gaming.

In April 2013, House Bill 1235 was introduced by Rep. Tina Davis to legalize online gambling in Pennsylvania. The legislation called for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to regulate the licensing, operation, and responsible participation of Internet gambling. The bill also called for the proceeds from the licensing and operation of Internet gaming in the state of Pennsylvania to be split between the Property Tax Relief Fund and the State Lottery Fund. Applicants for Internet gambling licenses in Pennsylvania would be limited to entities that hold an existing slot-machine license in the state. Included in the measure were online poker, other non-house-banked games, and traditional casino table games.

The bill, however, didn’t go anywhere. In June 2013, Rep. Tina Pickett, the chair of the Gaming Oversight Committee, voiced concern about bringing online gambling to the state of Pennsylvania. Pickett said she was worried both by how online gaming could impact brick-and-mortar casinos and the possibility of bringing more gambling to the state. The legislation wasn’t taken up. But the Senate did request a study on Internet gaming.

The findings of the study were made public in spring of 2014. Among the findings: People who gamble online are typically people who don’t visit casinos and they wager much smaller amounts than people who visit casinos.

These findings are critical because the chief objection to online gaming has been that it might cannibalize the land-based casino industry.

In June 2014, Sen. Edwin Erickson introduced legislation to license and regulate online gaming in the state. The bill would license all forms of online gaming, but no substantive action had been taken on the bill as of press time.

Also in the summer of 2014 Parx Casino launched a play for fun site using WMS software and announced a separate deal with GameAccount to run a “simulated” gaming website. The impact of the GameAccount deal on the WMS site was unclear as of press time.
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Pennsylvania Online Gaming

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