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Apr
23rd

Online Gambling Bill Introduced in Pennsylvania

Internet bingo players in Pennsylvania may be able to play their favorite online game legally is state Representative Tina M. Davis has her way. In an effort to make Pennsylvania a force in the gaming industry several legislators are backing Davis’s efforts. Davis pointed out that two neighboring states have legalized internet gambling; New Jersey and Delaware. Davis wrote “These states have seen their gaming industry take a hit from Pennsylvania’s casinos, with our state becoming the second largest gambling market in the country.” Davis’s proposal calls for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to regulate “licensing, operation of, and responsible participation in internet gaming to ensure that this form of gaming is within the regulatory framework.”

Davis said of casinos in neighboring states “These states have seen their gaming industry take a hit from Pennsylvania’s casinos, with our state becoming the second largest gambling market in the country.” Last year Pennsylvania was the second largest gaming market exceeding Atlantic City for the first time. The bill’s full text has not been posted on the state’s website but Chris Krafcik of Gambling compliance reported that Davis has made some significant changes to the bill since she originally said it would be introduced.

The bill originally included a steep licensing fee of $16.7 million and a tax rate of 45% of gross gambling revenues. Davis’s bill now proposes a licensing fee of $5 million and a 28% tax rate. Revenues generated by internet gaming would be split between two state agencies; the Property Tax Relief Fund and the State Lottery Fund. Davis estimated that the Pennsylvania gaming industry has created 16,000 jobs and generates $7 billion annually. Davis says she wants to ensure that the state retains control of that money.

Last year the National Governors Association, which is headed by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, opposed the federal proposal to regulate internet poker “as an unnecessary preemption of state authority.” A 2011 interpretation of the 1961 Wire Act cleared the way for states to legalize intrastate online gambling. About her bill, House Bill 1235, Davis wrote “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. A responsible internet gaming system must be created in order to protect Pennsylvanians and the success of the established gaming industry in the Commonwealth.”

Recently Pennsylvania hosted the state’s gaming conference which was organized by Spectrum Gaming Group “discuss the opportunities and challenges” posed by the state’s “meteoric” rise to the nation’s second largest gambling market. Many major players in the gaming industry were sponsors including Bally Technologies and the Amaya Gaming Group.