There has been confusion about Pennsylvania’s new online gaming bill after HB649 sponsor representative John Payne referred to it as an internet gaming bill, leading some people to believe that all online casino games would be allowed. While the HB649 bill mentions internet gaming repeatedly, the bill used to define an authorized game as only interactive poker games approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

But meanwhile, the bill has been changed to state that authorized games are “any interactive game approved by the board under this chapter” and now interactive games are defined as “any gambling game offered through the use of communications technology.”

Payne went on to say that they expect the state’s gambling market to make $120 million in the first year, although this seems highly unlikely, compared to other states. New Jersey, for example, made less than $30 million in online poker in its first year of trading.

The state will only allow institutions with existing gaming licenses to apply for online licenses but the bill does not specifically include ‘bad actor’ provisions regarding the licensees’ tech partners, also known as ‘significant vendors.’ They will take the significant vendor’s reputation, previous activities, habits and associations into account when judging for suitability and whether this will “create or enhance the dangers of unsuitable, unfair or illegal practices, methods and activities in the conduct of interactive gaming.”

Online gaming licenses can be bought for $5 million by existing gaming licensees and it will cost $1 million for significant vendors. Online players will have to be 21 or over to take part in the gaming and operators will have to pay 14% of the gross gambling revenue every week.

The bill also includes that they are willing to come to an arrangement with other intrastate markets, to ensure that liquidity is shared. If they don’t do this it will mean that people who are out of state will not get their winnings, even though they are playing online.

The bill states that internet cafes can’t solely provide their computers for online gambling. There are some steep fines to help with this — people who offer unauthorized online gambling can expect to cough up between $75,000 to $150,000 for their first offense, which will double if they’re caught again. Licensed manufacturers and gaming entities will have to pay even more, starting at $300,000 and going up to $1.2 million.

There will be no tax dodge here as you will have to pay taxes even if you’re not authorized to provide online gaming services to Pennsylvanians. And even if you do pay the taxes, you can still be prosecuted for providing unauthorized services.

At the moment Payne’s bill is still hanging but if it passes, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will begin the license application process within ninety days.

There has also been some gambling news in nearby Illinois, as state representative Ed Sullivan has filed legislation in the hopes of making the state’s online lottery a permanent fixture. Illinois is the first state to sell online lottery tickets.

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