The possibility that the Pennsylvania state legislature could pass a bill to legalize and regulate online gambling continues to languish in the Senate.
Lawmakers had yet to vote on any bill containing iGaming. Only two days remain — Oct. 26 and one day in November — before the Senate closes for the season, adding an extra sense of urgency to the proceedings. Days could still be added to the session.
Bill passed through House, stalled in July
HB 2150 is what’s known as an “omnibus bill,” which means it includes several different types of legislation, all dealing with gambling. A major component of the bill is online gambling, which proponents say is already taking place in the state and should be regulated.
The bill went through the House pretty easily; when lawmakers Gov. Tom Wolf set aside $100 million from a gambling expansion in the state’s 2016-17 budget, it looked as though online gambling was a no-brainer in Pennsylvania.
But the Senate failed to pass the bill during its summer session, which meant those interested in the legislation had to wait until the fall session to see an outcome.
There has been little movement in September or October.
Experts not sure if anything will happen
That tumultuous history leads up to this week’s Senate session, in which there is skepticism as to whether any bill containing iGaming will be up for vote again before the fall session closes.
Things started looking even worse for online gambling on Wednesday:
Rep. John Payne, a longtime proponent of online gambling legislation, was quoted as saying he thinks the odds of the bill passing are 50-50, earlier this month. It seems as though the more time that passes, the more uncertain politicians and industry experts become about the bill’s future.
Two other factors increase the time squeeze. First, Payne is retiring in November, which means PA online gambling is losing its most influential proponent. Payne has been vocal about his support of the bill, and serves as the chair of the House Gaming Oversight Committee.
Second, Payne says that, if iGaming doesn’t pass this year, an entirely new bill would have to be proposed next year.
It all adds up to what appears to be bad news for PA online gambling, at least in the short term. Any effort now seems destined to wait until 2017.