Will Pennsylvania be the Next State to Legalize Online Gambling?

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Pennsylvania lawmakers held on Wednesday a two-hour long hearing that featured testimony from state’s gaming regulators regarding the topic of online gaming.

Chaired by Sen Ken Ward, who is the Senate’s Community for Economic and Recreational Development and author of online gaming proposal SB900, This bill has had its second internet betting hearing in the past weeks. The purpose of the hearing was to discuss how online gaming could be implemented. Currently the momentum is growing in the Keystone State.

This bill of Sen. Ward is one of several with the aim of legalizing and regulating online gamin. Along with Sen. John Payne’s online poker proposal already in the house, are likely to be the two front runners to getting the games legalized.

Ready to go quickly if approved

The control board said that they would be ready to ‘go quickly’ if the state approved and legalized online gaming, in response to a question that Sen. Ward posed, they responded that it will take between 9-12 months before online gaming is launched, after approval.

Kevin O’Toole, Executive Director of the Gaming Control Board testified that the state should enable online gaming, interstate compacts in the same way that Delaware and Nevada did.

Mr. O’Toole then pointed out that the three states, Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware don’t require online account registration in person.

Expectations of revenues

Mr. O’Toole said that online gaming revenue, Pennsylvania could be approximately the same as New Jersey, not long after they launched their games. New Jersey showed about $120 million overall I-gambling revenue in the first year. Mr O’Toole said that expectation shouldn’t be too high at the roll-out.

Pennsylvania has concluded in a previous study that online poker that is regulated can be worth $129 million annually at maturation. Also they found that house- backed casino games could reach $175 million annually with the same conditions. These revenues could add about 10% to the states casino gaming market, which is worth about $3 billion annually. Gaming revenues have not grown over the past two years in Pennsylvania.

Online gaming complementary to land-based

The Gaming Board said that online gaming could be complementary to the existing bricks and mortar casinos. A question that comes up often in on line gaming hearings.

Sen. Ward wanted to know if Pennsylvania would be grandfathered in should the federal government enacted the ban on online gaming. The Gaming Control Board replied that it would depends on the language used in the federal bill. Odds currently are probably for an online gaming ban, which is known as the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, will come from Capitol Hill.

Kevin Kyle, the director of race track gaming said that the was no likelihood that there would be any “any significant impact” on the state’s horse racing industry from online gaming. He said that Sen. Ward’s 32-page bill, is a reform package for gambling that is looking at situation of online gaming as a one way to help the state’s with the casino industry.