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Proponents of online poker and gambling will be pleased to know that the House Appropriations Committee in Pennsylvania voted in favor of including igaming regulation in its budget plan for 2015-16.

The committee’s budget projected $120 million to come from online gambling revenue and another $24 million from igaming license fees, Penn Live reported. But Pennsylvanians hoping to deposit and play regulated online poker soon can keep those credit cards in their wallets for now.

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Senate Not on Same Page

The Pennsylvania Senate passed a budget plan as well, but only with regard to expenditures at this point. Where the revenue will come from has not yet been specified, but indications are that online gambling will not be one of the sources.

Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman revealed that support for igaming expansion among his chamber colleagues is lacking, the Associated Press reported.

“We don’t have the votes for that, I mean, that’s just plain and simple that won’t happen,” Corman stated with regard to online gambling.

Budget Balancing Blues

The budget is long overdue – five months and counting. The need to generate more revenue in order to meet expenditures opened the door for online poker in Pennsylvania and gambling legislation to perhaps be one of the means in which to obtain that revenue.

The hopes of igaming advocates were raised last month when the state’s House Gaming Oversight Committee voted 18-8 in favor of HB 649, an online gambling bill proposed by committee chairman Rep. John Payne. Whether HB 649 in its entirety was part of the budget plan approved by the House Appropriations Committee on Monday is not yet known.

The full House may vote Tuesday on the budget plan found favorable by Appropriations Committee members. However, without Senate support, online poker and gambling legislation may not be part of the 2015-16 budget that eventually gets passed.

Reports indicate that Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf is more in line with the Senate’s budget plan. The two chambers appear to have a difference of $500 million with regard to expenditures, with the Senate version paying out more.

Still Hope

While the Senate may not currently be enamored with igaming regulation as part of the budget, there remains hope that legislators will change their tune. Senate lawmakers need only look as far as the neighboring state of New Jersey to see that online poker and gambling brings in much needed revenue.

If the budget is eventually adopted without igaming included, Rep. Payne will have to try again in 2016. No states have approved Internet gambling in almost three years, a dry spell that has gone on for far too long.

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Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.

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