Pennsylvania Online Gaming Bill Moves to Committee

An online poker bill in Pennsylvania appears to be gaining traction, as the legislation has been referred to a legislative committee today.

House Bill 1235 is a gaming bill, introduced by Representative Tina M. Davis, that would provide for Internet gaming. The bill was moved on to the House Committee on Gaming Oversight on Monday.

According to the bill, poker and other online casino games could be offered in the commonwealth. There would be a steep fee and tax in order to offer online gaming in Pennsylvania:

Amount of authorization fee.–Each slot machine licensee that is issued a an Internet gaming certificate to conduct Internet gaming in accordance with section 13B11 (relating to authorization to conduct Internet gaming) shall pay a one-time nonrefundable authorization fee in the amount of $5,000,000.

(a) Imposition of tax.–Each slot machine licensee that operates Internet gaming shall report to the department and pay from its daily Internet gaming gross revenue, on a form and in the manner prescribed by the department, a tax of 28% of its daily Internet gaming gross revenue

Like other jurisdictions considering online gaming regulation, the bill notes that there are multiple reasons to move forward:

An effective regulatory, licensing and enforcement system for Internet gambling in this Commonwealth would inhibit underage wagering and otherwise protect vulnerable individuals, ensure that the games offered through the Internet are fair and safe, stop sending much-needed jobs, tax and other revenue offshore to illegal operators, provide a significant source of taxable revenue, create jobs and economic development and address the concerns of law enforcement.

You can read the entire bill here.

Davis addressed the bill she introduced in a memo released earlier this year, noting that neighboring states — New Jersey and Delaware — have already moved forward with online gaming regulation.

More from Davis:

Under my proposal, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board would regulate requirements for the licensing, operation of, and responsible participation in internet gaming to ensure that this form of gaming is within the regulatory framework we have fought to establish here in Pennsylvania. … Again, considering the nationwide efforts to legalize internet gaming, it is imperative that we maintain the integrity of our gaming industry amid inevitable federal preemption and competing states, as well as possible expansion of internet games through the privatization of our own State Lottery.

It can be noted from that memo that the licensing fee has been reduced to $5 million from the original $16.7 million proposed by Davis.

The next likely step on the bill will be a committee hearing, which would determine if the bill will go up for a vote in the Pennsylvania legislature.


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