We already know some lawmakers in Pennsylvania get that online gambling is going on in the commonwealth, regardless of whether it legalizes and regulates the activity.
Reps. John Payne and Nick Kotik have been trying to pass online gambling regulation for more than a year. But it looks like Pennsylvania online casinos and poker have another champion — Rep. Rosita Youngblood.
Youngblood calls for iGaming regulation
While opponents of online gambling in PA have been penning op-eds this year, not many have come from proponents.
Youngblood, who sponsored an amendment to a House-passed bill that included online gambling, changed all that, however.
Writing for PennLive.com, Youngblood laid out the case for common-sense regulation of the online gambling market:
The debate around iGaming is not about whether we finally allow it to exist within our borders – because the reality is, it’s already here. iGaming exists in Pennsylvania, just in the shadows of an unregulated space.
For me and many of my colleagues, regulating iGaming is the only way to truly rein in black market, off-shore operators that prey on problem and compulsive gamblers, and could care less about protecting against underage gambling.
Cannibalization? Not so much
Youngblood also debunked the idea that online gambling would hurt land-based PA casinos.
She wrote that PA should learn from the New Jersey example, where online gambling has “provided a synergy for their struggling casinos.”
Opponents have argued that iGaming simply hurts revenue for brick-and-mortar gaming establishments, when in reality it is often complementary and attracts customers who may not otherwise visit a casino.
Why Youngblood could be important for the future
Online gambling regulation could reach the finish line this year. Right now, the effort is in limbo in the Senate.
If it isn’t passed in 2016, online gambling loses its biggest supporters, Payne and Kotik, who lead the House Gaming Oversight Committee.
Youngblood is not on the gambling committee, but she could take up the mantle of online poker and gambling regulation should such an effort be needed next year. It looked like the online gambling regulation effort might be rudderless if the process extended beyond 2016, but that may not be the case anymore.