Governor Wolf Has Said Online Gambling Won't Replace His Revenue Measures

Pennsylvania Online Gambling Not Dead Yet, Could “Ride The Coattails” Of Budget Deal

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The possibility of Pennsylvania online gambling regulation is working its way into the ongoing budget impasse in the state, according to a local media report.

The latest on online gambling prospects

A report at WGAL News 8 interviewed Rep. John Payne, who is sponsoring an online gambling bill in the PA House, and cited sources familiar with the budget talks.

The takeaway? Online gambling is being considered as a part of budget negotiations. Reporter Pete Muntean said online gambling could “ride the coattails” of a budget deal. According to the report:

Top Republicans in meetings with Governor Tom Wolf have spoken to Payne about his plan becoming a budget bargaining chip.

“I still feel very comfortable that some forms of gaming will be part of the final budget package,” Payne said.

Muntean went on to say “A source close to Governor Wolf told me online gambling will not replace any of his revenue priorities.”

You can watch the entire report here.

The best news PA online gambling has had in a while

Following a flurry of bills dealing with online gambling this spring and a Senate hearing in June, there has been little momentum for legislation in the state.

An internet gambling bill was not passed by either chamber, nor did it appear as a part of a budget package passed by Republicans but vetoed by Wolf. Ever since, online gambling has been on the periphery of the budget talks.

Manwhile, the budget stalemate between the legislature and Wolf has now dragged on for two and a half months.

The problem? The two sides can’t agree on much of anything, including how much the state should spend, what it should spend it on, or how to pay for it.

That has left a wide gap between the sides, with the potential for compromise – a compromise that could be facilitated by the revenue generated from online gambling.

But reasons to temper optimism

If we’re to believe Wolf, however, he’s not willing to give up anything on the revenue front — including a suite of tax measures.

That’s despite the fact that an online gambling bill that would generate up-front licensing fees and a tax on gross gaming revenue, and help balance the budget, especially in the short term. Whether Wolf is taking a hard-line stance or it’s just rhetoric is hard to tell.

Payne has been the most outspoken advocate of online gambling in the state, so his optimism for iGaming’s prospects also needs to be tempered, and he has said that online gambling had a good chance to be a part of the budget for some time now.

Penn National, in its last earnings call, was also bearish on the prospects of legislation passing this year, although it hadn’t given up on the possibility of online gambling making its way into the budget, either.

We don’t know if any progress has been made on these issues

Complicating the matter: not all the stakeholders are on the same page when it comes to regulation. For example:

So, while it may be good that online gambling is a part of the conversation, it would appear there is substantial ground to cover before regulation becomes reality.

Photo by Shinya Suzuki used under license CC BY 2.0

- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. He has played poker recreationally for his entire adult life and has written about poker since 2008.
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