Erickson first announced his plans to introduce such a bill in late May.
The original draft of Sen. Erickson’s bill contained a key line that limited the games operators could offer online:
“Authorized game.” Any interactive game approved by the board pursuant to this chapter. The board only may approve poker games pursuant to this chapter.
Emphasis mine. In the version as introduced, the bolded line is gone:
“Authorized game.” Any interactive game approved by the board pursuant to this chapter.
The bill as introduced makes several references to poker in the introduction. But I cannot find any language in the bill that specifically restricts online activity to poker.
Read the full bill text.
Sen. Erickson is up for re-election this year, but has announced that he will not be running.
Not as I read the bill. A “presumption of unsuitability” (13B08) contains the following language:
Purchased or acquired, directly or indirectly, in whole or in significant part, a third party described in paragraph (1) or will use that third party or a covered asset in connection with interactive gaming.
The bill has moved to the Senate Committee on Community, Economic & Recreational Development, chaired by Sen. Kim Ward.
There’s still technically time to work online poker into the budget process, but with the deadline looming at month’s end, chances for that path grow shorter by the day. Good news on that front: Gov. Tom Corbett indicated today that he’d be comfortable with a late budget.
Once that’s wrapped up, lawmakers head home for several weeks before returning for a brief fall session starting in mid-September.
The consensus opinion is that Pennsylvania is one of the most likely states to legalize and regulate some form of online gambling.
There are powerful supporters – commercial and political – lined up behind online gambling. And momentum has been building organically for several months at this point.
On the other side sits well-financed opposition from Las Vegas Sands, a foggy legislative path through the House and an uncertain fate for any bill that does reach Gov. Corbett’s desk.