On the final day of Pennsylvania’s fiscal year, Governor Tom Wolf presents a $32 billion bipartisan spending plan that was negotiated behind closed doors a day earlier. Both the House and Senate voted in favour for the budget each with a 173-27 and 43-7 votes respectively.
Now that the state has come up with ways to spend the budget, the most important question that still needs to be answered is how it will be funded. That is where online gambling comes into play, as one of the possible ways to pay towards the budget.
Usually, one would make sure they have the necessary money first, before making plans on how to spend it. The norm is for lawmakers and the governor to propose a balanced budget, one with the necessary tax and revenue to support the it. However, given the current state of Pennsylvania’s finances, budget supporters this time round agreed that a budget vote is the best they can do during a time where political polarization exists between the two parties, and that they’ll figure out the revenue package that will fund the budget.
When lawmakers return after July 4th, one of the immediate topics of discussions will be online gaming. The oddball here is that both parties have voted for online gaming, and each has their own versions of a gaming package, however, there is one difference within these otherwise pretty similar bills that have resulted in the legalization of online gaming in a stalemate. The culprit for this holdup is the installation of slot-like machines, known as Video Gaming Terminals (VGTs), at bars and restaurants around the state.
The roadblock is caused because the House wants VGTs in the budgeting package, but the opposite is true when it comes to the majority of the votes from the Senate. Those who are in agreement believe that doing so will allow the bar and restaurant industry a way to compete in the gaming space, but at the same time, calls for concern of whether or not this newly gained advantage will cannibalize revenue from the existing casino industry.
While the issues of online gaming have been a thorn in the state’s budget’s side for some time now, due to the urgency as well as the predicament that Pennsylvania has found itself in, this might give the necessary final push the igaming bill has needed to cross the finish line into law.
If online gambling in Pennsylvania is to be legalized, now is the time to strike while the iron is hot.