State lawmakers have had plenty to say when it comes to the possibility of legalizing PA online casinos in recent weeks.

Whether it is going to happen — and how — are still a matter for debate.

The latest on PA online gambling: Tax rate is an issue?

What we already knew about PA online gambling: The state wants to legalize it to help with a shortfall of revenue reaching into the billions.

What we’ve learned in recent weeks? The issue of the tax rate is very unsettled.

The latest: Lawmakers in both the House and the Senate appear to be interested in taxing online gambling at the same rate as land-based slot machines.

That rate would be 54 percent, which is prohibitively high for an iGaming industry to even exist in PA. To wit, Penn National said as much in its quarterly earnings call. Per Penn National’s SVP of Public Affairs Eric Shippers:

“We are trying to knock down some sort of silly notion that you could have tax parity between iGaming and the slot machines and that it could be a successful industry and we’re trying to convince them that if they do this, no one will sign up for it,” said Schippers.

The lottery getting involved?

This hadn’t been on anyone’s radar until recently. But the possibility became more serious when Sen. Joe Scarnati put the idea out on Twitter:

Chris Grove of Online Poker Report knocked this down as a bad idea for myriad reasons:

Scarnati’s suggestion may appeal to some. But the likely outcome of such a proposal would be damage to Pennsylvania’s casino industry and diminished revenue for the state, a combination that will ultimately leave Pennsylvania taxpayers holding the bag.

PA online gambling still has a ways to go

Despite the need to act to fund the budget, negotiations about PA online gambling — and any other gambling provisions the state is going to enact — are likely to drag out into the summer. Other items up for debate:

  • Daily fantasy sports
  • Tablet gaming in airports
  • An upgrade for Category 3 casino licensees
  • Video gaming terminals in taverns
  • Slot machines at satellite casino locations or off-track betting parlors.
  • A fix to the local share tax that benefits jurisdictions hosting casinos.

So while there’s been little actual action on legislation, debate about these provisions — and online gambling — is far from over.

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.