Proponents of internet gambling regulation in Pennsylvania were treated to some hope that an iGaming bill could still pass the legislature this year.
Report: iGaming-only bill possible
A story at EGR North America (paywall) revealed the first concrete indication that an internet gambling measure could be a part of budget talks in Pennsylvania.
Democratic governor Tom Wolf and the Republican legislature have been at an impasse in negotiations for more than five weeks now.
There has been little common ground between the two sides, as they have disagreed on just about everything. That includes how much to spend in the budget, to what to spend it on, how to pay for the budget and how to trim a deficit in excess of a billion dollars.
But the EGR report provided a glimmer of hope, saying “as the budget talks have progressed, the bulk of the proposed gaming reforms have reportedly been scrapped, apart from egaming.”
The story was otherwise bearish on the prospects of a regulatory bill passing, but it is positive in that an iGaming measure isn’t off the table. As politicians struggle to find revenue streams that they agree on, allowing iGaming and taxing it seems to be a point that the two sides could advocate to generate revenue.
Stripping it down to just internet gambling
There had been five pieces of iGaming legislation introduced and considered in the state legislature, but all of those have had gaming elements that affected brick and mortar casinos, as well.
Those measures were largely more contentious than iGaming, although there are questions about implementation and the tax rate. The topic of internet gambling has stayed out of the political theater surrounding the budget impasse.
The fact that iGaming is now a possible standalone concept increases its chances of passage. However, several casinos in the state had earlier opposed legislation that only dealt with internet gambling and removed other issues from the table.
Representative agrees that online gambling is alive
Rep. John Payne — the chair of the Gaming Oversight Committee in the state house and one of the authors of the aforementioned bill — backed up the assessment that online gaming is still in play in Pennsylvania. More from Card Player:
“Nothing is further from the truth,” Payne said of speculation that the window is closing on online gaming legalization in 2015.
Payne said that until there’s a budget agreement “nobody knows” what exactly will happen with his and other gaming expansion bills on the table, which include other ideas to beef up the state’s gaming industry, such as slots at airports.
Penn National Gaming, in its earnings call last month, seemed bearish on the prospect for iGaming in 2015, but even their executives didn’t shut the door entirely.
While Pennsylvania’s budget remains up in the air, it appears that pretty much everything that could be a point of compromise between Democrats and Republicans likely remains in play. What remains to be seen is whether online gambling can be one of those things that the two sides agree should be a part of a revenue package moving forward.