It’s Official. Pennsylvania becomes the fourth state in the country to legalize online gambling, including online poker after Governor Tom Wolf signed off on an expansive gaming expansion package that will also address the state’s budget crisis.
This newest development comes just days after the gaming bill, named H 271, was passed by both the Senate and the House, and now the Governor’s signature marks the last step before the bill becomes law.
Along with New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware, and now Pennsylvania, there are now four states with legal and fully regulated online gambling, including online poker, sports betting and daily fantasy sports.
Finally Set in Stone
Poker players in the Keystone State can finally rejoice after a long and hard uphill battle that has lasted for the most part of the last five years.
The first glimmer of hope appeared back in April of 2013 when state Rep. Tina Davis drafted a bill dubbed H 1235 that was modeled on similar online gambling bills passed in New Jersey and Delaware. The bill, which looked to legalize online casino games and poker, ended up being nothing more than a conversation starter. However, “everything must have a beginning”, and this was it for the legalization of online poker and gambling in the state of Pennsylvania.
For much of the following three years, the topic of legalizing online gambling was always on the table, albeit for just a brief moment in 2014. The important thing was, Pennsylvania was getting more and more serious about legalizing online gambling with each passing year.
Despite the whole scenario being played over and over again like a broken record, the citizens of Pennsylvania knew it was only a matter of time. That time is finally here.
The Country’s Second-Largest Commercial Casino State is Ready to Expand
Aside from being the fourth state to legalize and regulate online gaming, Pennsylvania will become the first state to allow both casino and lottery games to be played online. All of this is in an effort to search for more money from newer and younger players to plug a giant budget hole in the state’s battered finances.
Back in July, Wolf allowed, for the second time in a row, a state’s budget to become law without his signature and was underfunded by $2.2 billion. Since then, he had been hoping that the General Assembly would come together to pass a solution that could address the deficit and balance the state’s books.
This was one of the main driving force behind legalizing online gaming and that has now finally come to fruition.
Lawmakers expect the gambling package to generate about $200 million annually, with the vast majority of it coming from licensing fees for online table games, slots and poker, costing $10 million together or $4 million each.
The gaming expansion will also allow up to five video gaming machines to be installed at truck stops that sells at least 50,000 gallons of diesel per month, as well as the selling of lottery tickets online and the legalization of daily fantasy sport.
Considering that Pennsylvania is the number one state when it comes to tax revenue from the casino industry, netting a total of $1.4 billion in the latest fiscal year, and only second to Nevada when it comes to total gross revenues, this gaming package will most certainly help to fill up the state coffers.
Knock on Effect for the Rest of the Country
It’s been more than 4 years since the New Jersey became the third state to legalize online poker. Between then and now, there were no short supplies of states that juggled with the idea of legalizing online casino, poker, or both. However, none of them managed to make it cross the finish line.
Pennsylvania’s success is not only the success of the state but a success for online gambling proponents on the legislative front across the nation. This could be the much-needed wake-up call that the rest of the states in the country that have pondered about online gambling needed.