If legal Pennsylvania online casinos and poker are coming to the Keystone State any time soon, next week will be pivotal.
After a confusing session in the House of Representatives in which two different gambling expansions were shot down — both including language regulating online gambling — iGaming is back on the agenda next week.
June 6 is the day for PA online gambling
The massive gambling expansion that the state legislature has been pondering will be taken up by the House on June 6. That is the first day the body is back in session after a brief hiatus.
Two different — but largely similar — gambling packages will be back up for consideration in HB 1925:
- One option has online gambling among a number of other provisions that would change the gambling industry in the state and generate revenue.
- The other has all the language of the first, but it also includes a provision allowing for video gaming terminals at private clubs and taverns.
That may seem like a small difference, but the two efforts couldn’t be further apart.
The package with VGTs is vehemently opposed by casinos in the state, to the point that their lobbying would kill such an effort should it reach the Senate. Therefore, if online gambling is to make it into law, it needs to be unattached from VGTs.
Money matters in gambling push
The gambling package is getting a real look because of the money it would generate for the state.
Online gambling was a part of the discussion in the state’s budget for the current fiscal year, a battle between Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican lawmakers that stretched over months.
Once again, gambling is on the radar for making money for the state, and it’s a serious effort this time around. According to Philly.com:
“Our goal is for gaming revenues to be part of the final budget package,” House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R., Indiana) said Wednesday. “We wanted to kind of test it out in May, but obviously when we come back in June it will be full guns a-blazing trying to get a budget done, and that will be part of that process.”
Wolf appears to be on board, as well:
“[Gambling] alone will not solve the issue of balancing our budget and fixing the deficit, but it could be part of a larger revenue package, and he’s open to that,” spokesman Jeff Sheridan said.
Online gambling proponent leaving the House
Many online gambling proponents worry about the future of the effort if it doesn’t happen this year.
Why? Rep. John Payne, the chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee, has spearheaded online gambling legislation. But he is retiring from the House after his term is up.
Originally, iGaming was a standalone bill from Payne more than a year ago.
The absence of Payne in the future is just one more reason that June 6 may be the day that determines the future of online poker and gambling in the state.