The state of Pennsylvania is one step closer to regulating online casino and poker gaming as Bill HB 649 has been approved by the House of Representatives Gaming Oversight Committee and will move to a vote from the full House, and then hopefully passed to the state Senate before the Governor signs the bill into law...but we all know a whole lot of things can happen along the way.
This is indeed big progress and there’s more to this bill than just allowing for Pennsylvania casinos to operate an online casino and poker room, as it will also permit slots at the states racetracks and airports, meaning that its progress is of interest to many. There’s plenty of hope for bill HB 649 due to the fact that it could be signed off by Governor Wolf as part of a package of revenue generating projects for the state, and there’s also a lengthy delay in getting in signing off a budget for 2016, meaning that speed is of the essence.
The bill proposes a 14% tax on all online casino and poker revenue, much preferable than the 54% that was originally proposed by the Senate, and much lower than the 55% which is imposed on land based casino slots in Pennsylvania, however that may be amended as the bill progresses. There is of course no easy ride getting a bill of this nature all the way through to the Governor’s desk and although all casinos in the state are either in favor or at worst neutral to online casinos becoming a part of their operations, there’s always someone who wants to spoil the party, and that someone is Sheldon Adelson.
Adelson owns Sands Bethlehem and bankrolls the Coalition to Stop Online Gaming who will no doubt be doing their best to put a stop to the bill, however progress so far means that there’s at least hope that a version of the bill will go all the way, making Pennsylvania the 4th state to provide regulated online casino action.