A fourth online gambling bill has been filed in Pennsylvania, and one that iGaming supporters hope dies a quick death. On Monday, Rep. Thomas Murt and seven co-sponsors filed House Bill 1013, a bill that seeks to ban online gambling in the state.
Murt filed a memo back on December 29 that stated he would file this bill. It is essentially a reintroduction of HB 1404 filed by Rep. Paul Clymer in 2013. That bill never made it past the Pennsylvania Gaming Oversight committee.
Bill Would Ban All Internet Gambling
The text of HB 1013 is identical to HB 1404 from 2013. The two-page bill first prohibits the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board from enacting rules and regulation allowing any type of Internet gambling. The bill does not specify any type of carveout for online poker or any other type of gaming.
Next, the bill prohibits both individuals and businesses from conducting any type of Internet wagering, specifically prohibiting the collection of cash or any other form of currency. This would effectively block any type of virtual currency such as Bitcoin.
Violators of this ban receive relatively light penalties until their third offense. A first offense earns the violator a fine up to $300. On a second offense, the violator may be fined up to $600 and spend up to three days in jail.
A third or subsequent offense under this law carries a stiffer penalty as they are considered third degree misdemeanors. Under Pennsylvania law, a third degree misdemeanor carries up to a $2,000 fine and up to a year in jail.
Curious Timing For Bill
The timing of this bill is curious, especially after recent events in the state. Just last week, the state held a hearing on internet gambling. Lawmakers were presented testimony from experts on internet gaming and security as well as Sheldon Adelson’s camp. The hearing was viewed as extremely positive for online gaming and less so for anti-iGaming lobbyist.
The PA House of Representatives passed H.R. 140 last week, a resolution that asks Congress to defeat the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA). RAWA would kill the legalized market in the United States and end any chance that the state has to legalize iGaming.
Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee Passes HR 140 Ahead of … http://t.co/L1F01IRWAk— Pennsylvania Hub (@PennsylvaniaHub) April 16, 2015
Pennsylvania has leapfrogged California in recent weeks and become the frontrunner for the next state to legalize online poker and iGaming in general. Knowing this, it seems odd that some lawmakers would file a bill that is almost certain to fail. The only logical explanation would be that this is some desperate attempt by the Adelson camp to block iGaming efforts in the state.
HB 1404 failed to get out of committee back in 2013 and it’s difficult to see it getting any traction this time around.