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Pennsylvania Gaming Suffers Blow with New Anti-Online Gambling Bill

Published on 18 March 2017 by Adam


Pennsylvania Gaming Suffers Blow with New Anti-Online Gambling BillIt’s only been a little over two weeks since we discussed Pennsylvania’s lucrative online gaming potential, but unfortunately there’s already been a setback. House Bill 801 was filed to the state’s legislators recently which outlined the intention to prevent internet gambling from ever getting off the ground.

Despite being expected after its announcement back in January, the document still manages to deliver a cruel blow to online gaming fans across Pennsylvania – particularly after the above report suggested that the state would be a key beneficiary were laws to be relaxed.

The US’ online gambling history has been fraught with negative arguments for many years, so we were naturally delighted to learn that Pennsylvania was one such state seriously considering its legalisation. However, any progress may well have just been stopped in its tracks, with the 28th March looking to be a key date in this battle as the Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee are scheduled to meet and discuss all bills set out before them.

Let’s take a detailed look at what House Bill 801, or Banning Internet Gambling in PA, would mean for Pennsylvania online gambling regulations.

House Bill 801 Would Shut Down Any Hope of Online Gambling in Pennsylvania

If Banning Internet Gambling in PA were to make it into law, the industry’s potential would essentially go up in smoke. This is because the bill is attempting to add a paragraph into the current law’s text, stating: “the board shall not promulgate rules and regulations allowing any form of Internet gambling”. Furthermore, they’re looking to impose penalties on anyone who breaches these potential changes in the form of a 3-strike warning.

  • 1st offence – A fine of no more than $300
  • 2nd offence – A fine of no more than $600 and a prison sentence of up to 3 days
  • 3rd or subsequent offence – A third-degree misdemeanour sentence

As you can tell, House Bill 801 would shatter any hope of legal online gaming in Pennsylvania. However, the state has overcome similar offerings in the past, so it’s not all doom and gloom just yet.

Tax and Brick-and-Mortar Revenue Concerns Occupy Recent Hearing

One of the key arguments in favour of legalising online gambling, as we’ve mentioned above, was the benefits that the state would receive – namely in tax revenues. The report by industry analyst Robert DellaFave outlines that Pennsylvania’s online gaming industry would generate $295.8m in total, so long as tax rates were capped at 20%.

Pennsylvania is the golden goose of US online gambling – Robert DellaFave

This was disputed at a recent hearing by Senator Boscola who claimed that the favourable rates would cause casino operators to pay less tax overall, leading Caesars Entertainment’s David Satz to describe the suggestion as something that “just doesn’t have a basis in fact”. It should also be noted that Boscola represents the district occupied by Sands Bethlehem, which is in turn owned by Sheldon Adelson – a notorious anti-online gambling figure who has financed numerous bills and movements whose sole cause is to prevent this kind of online entertainment.

Another crucial element regarding the legalisation of online gaming in Pennsylvania is brick-and-mortar revenues. The same hearing saw Anthony Ricci, of Parx Casino, argue that income generated from online gambling would simply be a steady flow of money coming out of land-based casinos. He went on to suggest that as much as 50% could be lost if the practice was regulated, without giving any evidence in favour.

Many other witnesses brushed this off by revealing actual data which highlighted how a vast quantity of players in the active online gambling state of New Jersey had no brick-and-mortar ties. Moreover, those who did had increased their spending at land-based casinos by 15%.

All Eyes on March 28th in Crucial Day for Pennsylvania’s Online Gambling Future

With the bitter disputes seemingly ongoing for now, the next key event looks to be the 28th March. There had previously been plans for the Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee to discuss proposals for gambling expansion on the 20th March, but a new announcement has since cast this into doubt.

For now, Netent Casino will be eagerly anticipating the results of the Committee’s crucial date, as they could have an overwhelming impact on Pennsylvania’s online gaming future. Make sure to check back in with us to see what the verdict is!


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