What could have been a big week for online gambling in Pennsylvania largely fizzled, leaving just three scheduled days in 2016 for the state to act on legislation that would regulate PA online casinos and daily fantasy sports.
What happened in PA this week
The only tangible thing that happened in the Pennsylvania legislature this week was a hearing in the House Gaming Oversight Committee.
There, lawmakers got an update on where things stood around the country on online gambling and DFS. So far in 2016, eight states have passed laws regulating the latter.
Not much of consequence was covered in the hearing, which saw witnesses from the Poker Players Alliance, the Small Businesses of Fantasy Sports Trade Association, and a lobbyist for DraftKings and FanDuel appear.
The hearing, though, was in some ways preaching to the choir. The House already passed an online gambling and DFS bill earlier this year, leaving the ball in the Senate’s court.
There was plenty of chatter about what might happen for online gambling and DFS in the Senate, however.
What didn’t happen in PA this week
The Senate started the week with six days left in its session before the November elections. After a promise by the PA government in the summer to pass gambling legislation that would help fund the state budget, it was at least possible it would happen in October.
But none of the bills that could move forward did. The Senate has a variety of vehicles with which it could act on these issues:
- S 1324 was on the Senate floor. It’s a fantasy sports-only bill that could progress on its own or be amended.
- H 2150, a larger gambling expansion package that also includes fantasy sports regulation, sat on the sidelines. That is the bill already passed by the House.
- S 1887, a piece of problem gambling legislation, could be amended with other gambling expansions, according to several sources.
What’s next for PA online gambling?
The Senate is back in session next week, and if anything happens on Monday, that will signal good things for the future of online gambling — at least this year. If nothing happens, the effort to legalize iGaming might have to wait till 2017.
The legislature is also interested in fixing a tax law related to gambling that was struck down by the state Supreme Court. That decision has an impact in excess of $100 million on a variety of jurisdictions. It’s possible all of the gambling provisions under consideration — including a tax fix — could be tackled in tandem.
There’s also at least a chance the legislature will extend the session by a day to deal with gambling legislation and other bills.
Regardless, all eyes will be on the Senate next week to see if action is coming sooner, or later.