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Pennsylvania Gambling Bill Finally Reaches Senate

- April 19, 2017 By Oliver Young -

Online gambling proponents are still optimistic.

Tommy Tomlinson and his supporters might propose a very high tax rate.

Many have predicted that 2017 will be a very important year for the gambling industry of Pennsylvania. The gambling revenue of Pennsylvania exceeded that of Nevada and that evidence alone is a clear testament that the future of the gambling industry of this state is quite bright.

While everything is well for the land-based casinos in Pennsylvania, the online gambling is one of the most hotly debated issue in the state. There is a lot of support for online gambling legalisation, but online casinos have a lot of opponents as well, and some of them are quite powerful. Shledon Adelson, the owner of Las Vegas Sands, and one of the strongest players in the land-based casino industry is a fierce opponent of online gambling in Pennsylvania, and all over the US.

At one point, Adelson even threatened to halt all further investments and close the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem if Pennsylvanian legislators decide to legalise online gambling.

Online Gambling Proponents Optimistic

In the beginning of this year, a new online gambling bill was proposed and now it will finally reaches in front of the Senate. The Senate has so far ignored some of the efforts of online gambling proponents, but people are optimistic regarding this bill as its main purpose is to enable the Senate to put forward specific provisions and requirements regarding online gambling and daily fantasy sports.

The current text of the bill only contains a provision regarding the instalment of gambling tablets at the state airports. However, one of the proponents of the bill, State Representative Dunbar said that the idea behind this proposal was to enable the Senate to add other provisions, basically to encourage senators to become more active. That makes sense, since the Senate ignored some of the previous bills that were put forward by the House.

The bill is currently discussed by the Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee in the Senate, after there was a joint hearing by the Gaming Oversight Committee of the House and the abovementioned Senate Committee. No conclusion was reached during the joint hearing.

Strong Opposition against Online Gambling

Even though Dunbar and other proponents of online gambling hope that the Senate will reach some conclusions and that amendments will be put forwards, some doubt that this initiative will be more successful than the previous ones, knowing that there is a faction that is seriously opposed to online gambling legalisation, led by Tommy Tomlinson.

Tomlinson has suggested an increase of the tax rate and some suspect that the main goal of his strategy is to set the tax bar so high that it would be virtually impossible for online gambling operators to be profitable. Tomlinson thinks that online and land-based operators should be equal in terms of taxation, but he refuses to account the obvious differences between the two industries.

Pennsylvanian land-based casinos pay 54% tax on slots and 16% on table games. Studies have shown that when the tax is higher than 20% it is no longer possible for online gambling providers to be viable. By comparison, online gambling operators in New Jersey that pay 17.5% in tax, make a 5c from each dollar, which means that if the tax is higher than 20% they would end up losing money.

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