Pennsylvania have taken another step towards the legalization of online gambling this week. Pennsylvania State Representative Tina Davis has introduced a revamped bill and Bill 1235 has quite a few changes to the initial draft. These include a reduced license fee which would be dropped to $5 million from the $16.5 million initially proposed, along with reducing the taxable rate on gross revenue from gaming to 28% from a previous amount of 45%. The bill will need to be approved by the House Gaming Oversight Committee and then will be voted on by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. There's a few points of note in the bill such as the wording regarding games available in that the bill will not be limited to just poker and states that internet games are “table game, slot machine, or any other game approved by the regulation of Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to be suitable for the use of Internet gaming activities.” There is however an exclusion of lottery games, bingo, keno and “small games of chance.”
Another interesting point and one that favors those already holding a license for gaming in the state is that customers must open and verify accounts in person at the land based establishment of the license holder. Players must also reside and maintain a presence within the state, however there is wording that means the state of Pennsylvania would not be opposed to interstate compacts with other like minded states. The bill is very different from the initial one with many changes and Davis commented that, “If we do not protect our casinos and money in Pennsylvania, we will be hurt by all the competition.” There is an urgency for the bill to be passed and it has plenty of support and the need to evolve and follow new revenue streams is a must for many states, especially those such as Pennsylvania with a successful track record in offline gambling. Pennsylvania is in fact the number 2 state when it comes to gaming revenue, ahead of New Jersey and second only to Nevada. Davis also hopes that jobs will be created by the bill and there are plans for tax collected to be used for lowering property taxes for the elderly along with reduced transit prices. There is however those against the bill, most notably Republican State Representative Paul Clymer who has plans to do the exact opposite of Bill 1235 and introduce a bill to make online gambling illegal.