More than two months after the Pennsylvania House passed a bill legalizing online gambling and daily fantasy sports, the House Gaming Oversight Committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday for a public hearing reviewing states that have already legalized online gambling and DFS.
That list includes New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware for online gambling. For DFS, those states are:
- New York
Common sense says the Senate should be holding a hearing on online gambling as well, but its lack of action has online gambling proponents and the House antsy over the bill’s future.
The Senate has introduced a new DFS-only bill, but its chances to move independent of other gambling expansions is murky.
House to Senate: It’s time
Tuesday’s public hearing is, in one sense, might be just for show. The gaming committee and the House already approved the bill, so this isn’t about convincing anyone in its own ranks. Experts are of the opinion that the meeting is about getting the Senate to pass a bill allowing PA online casinos and DFS.
Here’s the big picture:
- The Senate has not yet voted on any bill containing online gambling or DFS
- The Senate’s fall session is nine days long.
- If the bill isn’t passed during those nine days, it’s pushed back again; this time to 2017.
There’s a sense that the committee is passively telling the Senate, “It would be nice if you passed this bill since so many other states have already done it in the past three years.”
Bill is Payne’s last shot before retirement
Rep. John Payne, head of the Gaming Oversight Committee, has long been a vocal supporter of expanding the state’s gambling laws. However, Payne is retiring after the state’s November elections; a win like this before his final day in the House would be a sweet victory for the Dauphin County Republican.
After the June vote, Payne released a statement lauding the House’s bipartisan vote in support of online gambling regulation:
“Right now, Pennsylvanians who are playing these games online are at risk for fraud and abuse, and it’s nearly impossible to prevent children from gambling online or to protect problem gamblers. This legislation is needed to safeguard our children, our problem gamblers and our gaming consumers. Without it, we are only allowing the ‘wild west’ atmosphere that currently exists to continue.”
Expanded gambling will boost state budget
While pro-gambling folks in Pennsylvania would love to see the state finally pass the bill, the state’s budget would be equally as happy; it includes $100 million in gambling revenue.
That $100 million is possible revenue generated by online gambling in the state in year one, mostly from licensing fees. In 2015, Payne co-authored an opinion piece on PennLive.com, in which he estimated that online gambling revenues could top $300 million in a mature market.
Casinos might want to see it, as well; August was one of the state’s first bad months, revenue-wise, in quite awhile.