Pennsylvania Rep. John Payne has gone on record as saying that elements of his online poker and gambling proposal, HB 649, will likely be approved by mid-summer.
Payne chairs the House Gaming Oversight Committee, which voted in favor of the measure in November by an 18-8 margin. The following month, the House Appropriations Committee included igaming regulation in its budget proposal. But momentum was stopped short when Senate members were not on the same page and the 2015 legislation session ended.
“We need revenue,” Payne told Trib Live. “They’re not going to find votes for (higher) taxes in an election year. So I would think gaming will be a component.”
Two Years and Counting
No new states have launched regulated online poker and gambling regimes since November 2013. When Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey did so that year, expectations were that other states would have come on board by now. That hasn’t happened, much to the chagrin of ipoker proponents who were hoping for a regulated online poker boom of sorts via interstate partnerships.
While Nevada and Delaware have teamed up to share player pools, the small population of both states has kept action to a minimum. That may change if Payne proves to be a worthy prognosticator and Pennsylvania enters the mix.
“If Pennsylvania comes online, that’s a huge market, much bigger than Jersey,” said 888poker U.S. marketing director Chris Capra. “It doubles the player pool, which is awesome.”
Capra revealed that gaming regulators from both New Jersey and Pennsylvania have already traded information. That is certainly welcome news considering that New Jersey has yet to sign the Multi State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) forged by Nevada and Delaware.
New Jersey has thus far remained on the sidelines in that regard despite releasing a report at the beginning of 2015 citing the need for such alliances.
“An important area for the future of Internet gaming is Interstate/International compacts,” said the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement report. “This type of cooperation between jurisdictions is very important for building liquidity in peer-to-peer games such as poker. The Division is open to discussions in this area and always seeks to ensure that any agreements are most beneficial to New Jersey’s Internet gaming industry.”
Dominoes to Fall?
Perhaps Pennsylvania will be the state that will kick regulated online poker into high gear. Or at least second gear. A partnership with New Jersey, followed by joining Delaware and Nevada in the MSIGA.
That, in turn, may prompt other state legislatures to become more aggressive with regard to regulating online poker and gambling. And finally, what many envisioned in terms of interstate alliances when Ultimate Poker dealt the first U.S. regulated online poker hand in April 2013 will begin to materialize.
We can hope and dream, can’t we?