Pennsylvania could be on its way to becoming the fourth state to legalize online gaming.
A bill that would permit the state’s casinos to operate poker and casino games over the Internet passed out of a house committee this morning. The bill, HB 649, is sponsored by Rep. John Payne, chairman of the Pennsylvania Gaming Oversight Committee.
HB 649 passed the committee by an 18-8 margin. It now heads to the full Pennsylvania House for a vote. If it passes, it would then head to the state Senate.
The bill may also be attached to a state budget, which is 130 days past due.
What HB 649 permits
HB 649 would permit online poker and casinos games in the state. Pennsylvania casinos would operate regulated online games. Outside companies could provide software to Pennsylvania casino licensees.
Casinos would pay $5 million in licensing fees under HB 649. Software providers would pay $1 million to get licensed. The tax rate would be 14 percent of gross revenues.
In addition to online poker, any casino game legal at Pennsylvania casinos would be permitted over the Internet at licensed sites. This includes slots, video poker, blackjack, roulette, craps and a variety of proprietary table games.
Three states already permit licensed online gaming. Nevada became the first state to regulated online poker in April 2013. Delaware and New Jersey launched online poker and casinos games in November 2013.
Poker Players Alliance reaction
John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance, released this statement:
“With the passage of H.B. 649, the House Gaming Oversight Committee has proven their commitment to providing Pennsylvania residents with a safe and regulated place to play online poker within their own borders. The PPA thanks Chairman John Payne and the Committee for their leadership. Now this bill needs to become law. The safety of consumers and the fiscal health of Pennsylvania will be vastly improved when Internet gaming is appropriately licensed, regulated and taxed. It is our hope that the legislation will be enacted on its own or as part of the state’s 2016 budget by the end of this year.”