Pennsylvania 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 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 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 have licensed all forms of online gaming, but it failed to make it out of committee.
In February 2015, Rep. John Payne introduced legislation that would give the state the authority to license and regulate online gaming. The proposed tax rate in Payne's bill was 14%. The bill passed in a committee vote 18-8, but was never taken up by the full House, because an amendment that would have allowed video gaming terminals (VGTs) into bars, taverns and private clubs was attached to the bill as a poison pill.
In late 2015, House committee members also held an informational hearing on daily fantasy sports, but no action was taken.
The Parx Casino began dabbling in online gaming when it launched a play-for-fun site in summer 2014 using WMS software. It also has a separate deal with GameAccount to run a "simulated" gaming website.
In June 2016, HB 2150 cleared a vote in the House. The bill would regulate online gambling in the state, including online casino and online poker, and would allow daily fantasy sports.
In 2017, a push was made for a gambling expansion bill that would legalize online casino games and resolve problems with the $10 million local share tax. The bill also aimed to regulate DFS and allow gambling in airports.
With the passage of H 271 and its subsequent signing into law by Gov. Tom Wolf on 30 October 2017, Pennsylvania welcomed legal online casino games and legalized paid-entry fantasy sports and daily fantasy sports. The implementation of online gambling is expected to take place in early 2019.
In November 2018, sports betting was launched at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course. In December, sportsbooks opened at SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia and Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh. Four other land-based casinos also applied for sportsbook licenses. There is expected to be online sports betting platforms available to bettors in early 2019.
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