The Vote on Internet Gambling has been postponed due to new developments on the ongoing controversy into daily Fantasy Sports. The HGOC (House Gaming Oversight Committee) were to meet recently to discuss Sen. Kim Ward's online gambling bill, SB 900. The aim of this legislation is to legalize online casino and poker games it was also set to charge a $10 million license fee and a 54% tax on gross revenue.
There have been several of the iGaming bills floated at the Pennsylvania General Assembly this past year, none of them succeeded in gaining any traction. The state has been running al almost a $2 billion budget deficit, it was proposed that online gambling is as a means of producing new revenue.
This state's budget package was supposed to be implemented in July, but the Pennsylvania Democratic Governor, Tom Wolf, hasn’t been able to come up with a solution in the Republican-controlled Congress on how to raise the necessary cash to deal with the deficit. Mr. Wolf proposed raising taxes on the Pennsylvanian residents, This idea was rejected by the GOP.
The proposal of legalizing online gambling could reduce the deficit in the Commonwealth and avoiding a tax hike. One of the studies has estimated that the Pennsylvania poker market online could be worth about $129 million annually, and casino also games raking in $178 million annually. In comparing the state's brick-and-mortar casinos they are only worth about $3 billion a year.
Representative John Payne, chairman of the HGOC, has introduced his online gambling bill, HB 649, for the legalization of iGaming with a tax rate of 14% of gross revenue. Mr Payne in an interview with CardPlayer, said that he didn't care "which name was on the bill" he wanted to be sure that iGaming legislation passes.
He believes, however, that legislation of online Poker would not be approved as a stand-alone bill, but he suspected as part of a more expansive legislation.
There is another bill that is being floated by Representative George Dunbar that could regulate the daily Fantasy Sports operators such as FanDuel and DraftKings in the state. Mr. Dunbar introduced this daily Fantasy Sports bill earlier in the year, this would have allowed for live DFS contests in state casinos. The new bill has an amendment that allows operators of DFS to partner with one of the twelve state casinos. It was this amendment that led the legislators to postpone voting.
Mr. Dunbar's bill would also call for casinos to pay a $5 million upfront operator fee, and the DFS partners to pay an additional $1 million vendors fee.
Mr. Wolf when confronted with the budget impasse, said that he was open to the idea of the online gambling bill as a means of generating additional revenue for the state.