The Pennsylvania House of Representatives considered legislation to legalize and regulate online gambling on Tuesday, but after a series of votes, iGaming’s future is still uncertain.
What happened in PA on iGaming
The effort to move online gambling regulation forward in the state cropped up suddenly this week after reports that it would be considered in June.
The old vehicle — HB 649 — was left behind. Lawmakers made an attempt to add the massive omnibus gambling expansion — iGaming included — to HB 1925.
At first, an amendment was offered that included a contentious provision that would allow private establishments — outside of casinos — to offer video gaming terminals. That amendment was defeated, 122-66.
Next, another amendment — this time with no VGTs — was brought forward by Rep. John Payne. (Payne chairs the House gaming committee and also is the architect of the gambling expansion effort.)
After a lengthy debate, that amendment was also defeated, 107-81. That left observers wondering if online gambling had drawn its last breath, at least temporarily.
Wait, not so fast on iGaming’s obituary
Online gambling isn’t dead yet, however. The House approved motions to reconsider both gaming amendments right after they were defeated.
The best guess for what’s happening? It’s a bit of a gamesmanship between lawmakers who want to authorize VGTs and those that do not.
The VGT provision has long been thought to be a poison pill for the gambling expansion if it reaches the Senate.
What’s next for PA online gambling?
The amendments could be considered and voted on again, as soon as Wednesday. Online gaming proponents would like to see the non-VGT amendment get through.
The gambling expansion and online gambling are seen as a way to deal with a deficit in the state’s pension system. Previously, online gaming had been a part of budget talks in the state because it could generate tens of millions of dollars in revenue annually.
Pennsylvania has long seemed like the front-runner for the next state to authorize online gambling. While it’s difficult to handicap the effort’s chances right now, it’s still not dead.