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Pennsylvania has been viewed as one of the states most likely to pass iGaming legislation in the near future and on Wednesday, they took a big step in that direction. According to a report from ABC 27 of Philadelphia, Rep. John Payne (R-Dauphin) filed House Bill 649 (HB 649) on Wednesday in an attempt to legalize interactive gaming in the state.

Payne is the chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee and filed the bill to give citizens a legal alternative to the unregulated market that millions of Americans play each day. He also believes that iGaming would help bolster state revenues and fill the $2 billion budget shortfall currently being experienced by the state.


Bill Could Legalize Most Forms of iGaming

While the text for the full bill is not currently available, we do know the following:

  • Will legalize general iGaming, not just online poker
  • All iGaming to be conducted through current licensees
  • License fee of $5 million
  • Gross iGaming revenue will be taxed at 14%

In a statement on Rep. Payne’s website, he points to a recent study that claims that first year revenue in the state would be around $120 million. Other analysts have claimed that iGaming could eclipse the $300 million mark.

“We are currently facing a projected $2 billion budget shortfall,” Payne stated. “I think it’s important we consider all responsible options to boost revenue before we consider asking our taxpayers for more money to fill that deficit.”

The statement also listed several consumer protections in the bill. Among them are placing limits on deposits and losses, provisions to safeguard against underage gambling and assistance for problem gamblers.


Bill Will Have Serious Challenge in Adelson Owned Sands Bethlehem

One serious challenger to this bill will be Sheldon Adelson who owns the Sands Bethlehem. The Sands is currently the state’s most profitable casino, meaning that Adelson and his associates will have some considerable influence on proceedings.

You can expect the same arguments in Pennsylvania that we’ve heard since December 2013 but with a more localized prospective. However, Adelson may be in the minority.

With the recent shift of opinion by Caesars Entertainment on bad actors and their partnership with PokerStars, Adelson could find himself alone in opposition.

Even so, expect him to put forth significant time and money to try and block this bill.


Technology Exists to Stay Competitive According to Payne

It has been well documented that iGaming sites in New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada have not had a single instance of underage gambling and that regulated gambling works. Payne recognizes this fact and believes that in order to grow in this industry, the state must expand into iGaming.

According to Payne, “The implementation of legalized online gaming in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware demonstrates the technologies exist to regulate Internet gaming safely and effectively. This legislation is the first step toward ensuring future growth as the industry expands.”

He believes that iGaming will make Pennsylvania a top competitor among neighboring states. This is important as iGaming expands.

James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.