Pennsylvania Moves Forward On Bill With Fantasy Sports, Online Gambling

June 27, 2016
PA online gambling bill

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives recently took action on a gambling bill that includes daily fantasy sports, online gambling and slot machines at airports and off-track betting properties.

The bill — HB 2150 — is sponsored by Rep. George Dunbar and an amendment by Rep. Rosita C. Younglood was approved by a vote of the full House, 115-80.

This is far from the end of the road for the bill, which now heads back to the House Appropriations Committee. It still needs the blessing of that committee, the approval of the full House and Senate and the signature of Governor Tom Wolf.

Bill provides details on DFS regulation, fees

The bill started as legislation regulating daily fantasy sports and putting it under the supervision of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. The PGCB would have the following powers as it relates to its regulation of DFS:

  • Hire additional state employees to “carry out the requirements” of the bill
  • Issue, approve, renew and revoke licenses
  • Levy fines on DFS companies
  • Every January, publish the names of all companies who applied for or possess a DFS license.
  • Collect a tax of five percent on net revenue generated from players in Pennsylvania.
  • Charge a licensing fee of $50,000 or 7.5% of the company’s adjusted revenue, whichever is less.

Online gambling, slot machine provisions in PA

DFS is just one part of the bill, however. When it was amended, the possibility of PA online casinos and a number of other gambling expansions were added.

According to the New Jersey Herald, the bill’s online-gaming section reveals that companies would pay an $8 million fee to operate in the state. The Herald also noted that website gambling proceeds would have a 14 percent tax rate.

The bill’s section on slots began with a short preface indicating the approval of slot machines in these locations would help “ensure the stability and competitiveness of the commercial gaming industry” by allowing the following types of slot play:

  • Operation of multistate, wide-area progressive slot machines
  • Hybrid and skill slot machines
  • Slot machines in non-primary locations

The bill does not allow slots at taverns and clubs, a measure that was seen as a potential stumbling block should it have been included.

The prospects for the gambling bill

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Harrisburg bureau, proponents of the bill say it could generate up to $250 million for the state’s budget, which faces a $1 billion deficit.

“Gaming expansion money in one form or another is necessary for this budget process to be complete,” House Majority Leader Dave Reed was quoted as saying in reference to the July 1 deadline for the upcoming year’s budget.

While supporters of the bill say revenues will bolster the state budget, other’s – including the governor – aren’t as optimistic about the bill’s overall fiscal effect.

Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland was quoted as saying he’s worried that slots-style gaming outside of casinos would cut into the profitability of Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack.

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