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Fifth Gambling Bill Introduced in Pennsylvania
- June 10, 2015 By Oliver Young -
The US state of Pennsylvania is obviously focused on regulating online gambling till the end of 2015. Therefore, the state introduced the fifth gambling bill this Tuesday which comes with proposals such as limitations on using brands as well as a 54% tax rate.
The bill SB 900 is sponsored by Senator Kim Ward, whereas its co-sponsors are Sen. Elder Vogel, Sen. Robert Tomlinson and Sen. Joseph Scarnati. Both Ward and her co-sponsors are considered to be credible and powerful voices when it comes to gaming in the state. Hence, their efforts are necessary for any attempts to have a regulated Internet gambling market in Pennsylvania.
The memorandum explains that the Senators plan on “introducing legislation” in the near future which would amend “Title 4 (Amusements), Part II (Gaming)” as well as “Gaming Act” by making “enhancements and reforms.”
This latest bill is seen as a step forward since it is the first one that emerges from the Senate. Previously, the state has seen four other gambling bills out of which three were in favour and one opposed iGaming. All of them came from the House of Representatives.
The Bill Allows Both Online Casino Games and Poker
The bill SB 900 has one main intention and that is to boost Pennsylvania’s gambling industry. One of the ways to do this is by allowing both online casino games as well as poker. However, the only operators that will be able to offer online gambling services are the ones that hold a Pennsylvanian gambling licence already.
When it comes to licensee’s partners, there are no particular “bad actor” prohibitions. However, the document states that all applicants are asked to provide a “fictitious, brand or trade name” that will be used for their online gaming operations. Additionally, that name must be “predominantly the same name that is utilised by the licensed gaming entity.” Therefore, it can be concluded that the use of well established online gaming brands will be limited.
$10m Licence Fee for Five-Year Term and 54% Tax Rate on Gross Gaming Revenue
Those who will try to acquire an online gambling licence will have to pay a fixed upfront fee of $10 million and their licence will be valid for five years. The renewal fee is much lower $1 million; nevertheless, it’s not specified whether the renewal term is five years as well. It has to be pointed out that these $10 million are not a deposit that can be later used for paying taxes, but just a regular fee.
Another thing that might not be that positive for future online gaming operators in Pennsylvania is the high tax rate of 54% on gross gaming revenue. This number is a bit lower than the already unreasonable 55% tax rate applied on land-based slots revenue. In comparison, land-based table game revenue is taxed at low 16%.
The legislature is scheduled to adjourn on the 30th of June, 2015. Thus, all interested parties can do is simply wait and see whether the future of online gaming in Pennsylvania will soon be decided.
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