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Pennsylvania House of Representatives Passes Online Gambling Bill
- June 29, 2016 By Oliver Young -
In May this year it was announced that Pennsylvanian lawmakers will be discussing a bill on online gambling and now the House of Representatives passed the online gambling bill which was proposed by John Payne. This was an expected outcome, especially if we know that the state has been trying to find ways to increase its budget revenues.
We reported on some mix reactions towards the idea of legalizing online gambling in Pennsylvania two years ago, but it appears that a positive attitude towards online gambling prevailed and the bill was passed.
114 Representatives Voted in Favor, 85 Against
The online gambling legalization bill HB2105 won the support of the representatives who voted 114 to 85 in favor of the bill. Existing holders of a casino license issued by Pennsylvania now have the chance of going online.
Most of the proposals that were part of the bill have been passed, although video gaming terminals were excluded. Slots will now be available at airports, as well as conventional betting sites that are located outside race-tracks. The bill will soon be in front of the Senate and it is unclear whether the Senate will give it a pass or not.
The CEO of Sheldon Adelson’s Sands Bethlehem Casino has already stated that he and his company are against this bill. That is understandably, as it will make the market more competitive. The CEO believes that Senate will reject the bill and he is particularly opposed to the provisions that allow slots at off-track locations and airports.
The Main Goal of the Bill Is to Provide Additional Budget Revenues
It is more than clear that filling the state budget was one of the primary reasons why the House passed this bill. The $31.5bn budget was passed 132 to 68, but there were serious talks between Republicans and Conservatives before an agreement was reached.
Governor Wolf, already said that he doesn’t believe that it is possible to raise that much money. The chair of the House Appropriations Committee, on the other hand, claims that $1bn could be collected from legalized online gambling, increased tobacco taxes and a special program for tax amnesty.
Operators who wish to become licensed online operators will have to pay a fee worth $8m for a license, whereas renewals will cost $250,000. Suppliers of casino products and serves will need to pay a fee of $2m and $100,000 for renewals. Moreover, operators will be taxed at a 16% rate on their income. Mobile casino gaming will only be allowed at airports. However, that will come a cost of $1m per airport and a 34% tax, plus a 20% levy. Some have already claimed that with taxes, levies and fees that high, there won’t be any incentive for operators.
The bill also has a provision which is believed that will enable inter-state shared player pools. The executive director of the PPA (Poker Players Alliance), John Pappas who was one of the main lobbyists was happy with the outcome of the vote. He stated that this bill is win-win for Pennsylvania and he urged both the Governor and the Senate to enact this bill as soon as possible. He added that this legislation will create jobs in the state.