The effort to legalize online gambling in Pennsylvania got a shot in the arm from two different sources this week: the legislature and the governor.

A new gaming bill drops in the House

The good news on Thursday came from the state House of Representatives. There, the first of several planned omnibus gaming bills appeared.

As expected, the bill (HB 392) included language to legalize, regulate and generate revenue from iGaming.

The bill contains much more than that, of course, including:

  • A remedy to the casino host tax that was struck down as unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court, with a yearly slot license fee on Category 1 and 2 casinos.
  • Authorization of multi-state progressive slot machines, as well as skill-based and hybrid slots.
  • Allowing tablet gaming at some airports.

But one of the key points is online gambling.

What’s in the online gambling portion of the bill?

The bill that just surfaced is much like one that passed the House — on two different occasions — at least on the online gambling front:

  • Anyone wishing to operate PA online casinos or poker rooms would have to pay an $8 million licensing fee.
  • Anyone partnering with a licensee to offer online gaming would pay a $2 million fee.
  • Gaming revenue would be taxed at a rate of 14 percent, with an additional two percent going to casino host communities.

What did Gov. Wolf say about gambling?

There was also good news from Gov. Tom Wolf on the online gambling front, even though he didn’t mention it by name.

Wolf announced his plan for the budget for the rest of this fiscal year, as well as the next one. In his proposed budget, he earmarked $250 million from a gambling expansion that has not yet been passed.

More from his budget plan:

As part of the final 2016-17 Budget agreement, the legislature committed to enacting a gaming expansion proposal that would generate $100 million in the current fiscal year. This commitment continues to be reflected in the 2017-18 Budget, which further proposes an additional $150 million in revenue from gaming expansion for the budget year.

Given developments within the legislature, the governor’s proposed budget does not put forth a specific proposal for expansion, but merely assumes revenues within the current ideas being discussed.

Despite Wolf being noncommittal on where the money will come from, the only way for that type of revenue to be realized would be to legalize online gambling.

Dustin Gouker

Dustin Gouker

Having previously written for The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner, among other publications, Dustin Gouker has been a sports writer for more than 15 years. He is an avid poker player who has also spent years covering the topics of poker, the casino industry, and the burgeoning DFS industry.