Even though there is little progress since late 2015 toward passing an online gaming bill, gaming expansion in Pennsylvania is still relevant in the budget negotiations of the last six months.
The current developments of the online gambling bill in PA
Over the last six months, there has been a budget negotiation going on in Pennsylvania. Last week, State Rep. Steven Mentzer wrote an article at LancasterOnline.com on this matter. Over the last months many proposals on how to balance Pennsylvania’s budget have failed in the House of Representatives. Until now representatives have not come to a consensus on how to raise money to pay spending. According to Rep. Mentzer, gambling expansion is one of the issues being discussed in the budget negotiations:
‘’My hope had been that we could find some additional savings and revenue from pension reform or liquor privatization, but those attempts were vetoed by the governor June 30. current topics of discussion include increased tobacco taxes, gambling expansion, increases in the personal income tax, and a sales tax increase and expansion.’’
Background of this budget discussion and gambling expansion
In the last weeks, the optimism for the passage of the bill HB 649, which supports the legalization and regulation of online poker in Pennsylvania has declined. After Rep. Payne said this bill would be discussed again in the spring in a separated hearing and not linked to the budget battle, hopes that the HB 649 would still pass in 2015 have waned. Even after a number of hearings and bills where the gambling expansion in Pennsylvania was seriously considered in 2015, the comments done by Payne’s really made clear that a bill in favour of gambling would probably not pass in 2015.
However the budget discussion is still open in Pennsylvania, so there is still some hope a bill could still pass in the beginning of 2016.
Gambling expansion sooner rather than latter
It is likely that Pennsylvania is trying to find a way to keep gambling revenues within the state’s borders as New Jersey and New York are also discussing a gaming expansion of their own.
In New York three casinos have had their licenses approved and New Jersey is the process of allowing two casinos in their state.
Those developments could lead to an oversaturation of gambling at physical places in the region and online casino and poker games could work as a solution for this problem and stave off bigger losses. Actually, online poker and casino services would complement the brick-and-mortar gambling concept in practice in the state of New Jersey.
To help out their own casinos, Pennsylvania might take all possible measures to pass a gambling expansion bill. For them it is important to pass an online gambling expansion bill sooner rather than later.