Pennsylvania has made online gambling a real potential within the state by passing a gambling bill that would legalize it within its jurisdiction. The House of Representatives approved of House Bill 1887 with a vote of 108 to 71, which was far more than what was needed for it to pass. House Bill 1887 outlines various forms of online gambling that will be allowed in the state, which includes both online poker and sports betting.
The bill will now move on to the Senate and will need to pass through it before falling onto the governor’s desk to either be signed or vetoed. The Senate will not be voting on the bill for a few weeks so it’ll be some time before we learn whether or not this bill is going to move forward and likely be enacted into law. While many have hoped for an immediate vote the Senate had already adjourned until November 15th, and so it has to wait until then.
Perhaps the biggest reason for the bill getting this far already is due to the income it will bring in for the state budget. It is expected to fill the $100 million hole that is currently in the budget, which will be accumulated through state taxes.
There was some major hope that the bill would also allow for slot games to be placed in airports throughout the state, but this did not make itself onto the bill. It was originally meant to be included and was affirmed by the House, but the Senate had been opposed to having it placed onto the bill for fear that it might take business away from the current 12 casinos sitting in the state. In order to ensure that the bill would be able to pass through the Senate, or at least highly increase its chances, the House decided to remove that part of the bill and may choose to introduce it as a separate bill later on. It was argued that residents wouldn’t go to an airport to gamble instead of a casino, but the counterargument was that it would take away from the tourist income as they would choose to stay and play in the airport instead of visiting one of Pennsylvania’s gambling venues.
Another big stake in the bill was a fix for “host payments” that have recently been determined by the Supreme Court as being unconstitutional last month. Nine of the casinos throughout the state were being required to make these payments that were equal to two percent of their gross income, or $10 million – whichever value was higher. The money would go to the local government as a reward for hosting the venues, which they will now not be able to collect following the new case law laid out by the Supreme Court.
This bill will be huge for the state of Pennsylvania and has a lot to offer to the gambling industry, finding a new home in a wonderful state.