It is still anybody’s guess as to whether or not the fate of online gambling in Pennsylvania will be decided when the Senate meets this coming week.
Prior to the state Senate breaking for its summer recess, House Bill 2150 was approved in the lower house on June 28 after being rejected by the House earlier. After a controversial component of the proposed legislation was removed an omnibus gaming reform bill was then passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. The bill was then sent to the Senate for consideration where it currently remains. In addition to allowing online gambling in the state, the proposed legislation would expand the number of slot machines and regulate daily fantasy sports. If by some chance the bill meets with success in the Senate the governor would still have to sign off on it. One thing the bill has in its favor is the fact that many believe in order for the state’s 2016/2017 budget process to be complete, money from some form of gaming expansion is necessary.
In July, the main proponent of online gambling legislation in the state, Rep. John Payne, confirmed to Online Poker Report (OPR) that regulating online gambling and poker would be part of a gambling package that would be considered by the legislature this fall. At the time Payne told OPR that, “The short version is this: Anything can happen between now and then, and the only thing I can guarantee 100 percent is that on Nov. 30 I am retiring,” adding, “But I do think it’s going to become law.” Payne emphasized the importance of the legislation in relation to gaming remaining competitive, as surround states are joining the fray and will soon be part of the competition.
Reports in August indicated that while a gambling expansion package, which would generate at least $100 million for the state, would be relied upon for revenue for funding the state’s budget, the legislation would not be acted upon until the fall. While there has been talk recently regarding what the state will do when it comes to online gambling specifically and gambling in general, other than the recent hearings in the House regarding the issues, nothing has really happened, not publically anyway.
Lobbyists believed this summer that the bill would most likely get the necessary approval by now, however, considering there are only three says remaining before the legislature adjourns, the odds of the issue getting put on the backburner until 2017 have increased.