After Months Of Inaction, Online Poker Returns To PA's Radar

Pennsylvania Online Gambling Proponents Look To June For Possible Legislative Movement

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A new report indicates a bill that would legalize Pennsylvania online gambling and poker will be back on the legislature’s agenda next month.

Is the wait almost over PA online poker?

The gambling expansion package that has been on the House floor since late last year appears to be coming off the sidelines.

A new report from the Reading Eagle indicates that the House will take up a bill involving online gambling in June. That legislation is HB 649, although the story did not mention the bill by name.

The bill, when last seen, included a number of different gaming expansions that could derail its progress, including the ability for taverns to have video gaming terminals.

The bill passed a committee vote last November and had been a part of budget discussions at one point.

Consumer protections at the fore?

Rep. John Payne — the sponsor of iGaming legislation and the chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee — talked with the publication about online gaming.

Echoing a trend seen recently in California and Michigan iGaming hearings, Payne was harping on consumer protections for people playing at online poker rooms and casinos now on offshore sites. More from the Eagle:

While the games would generate some extra cash, he said, his main aim is to bring state oversight to something that’s already happening illegally.”Is that the savior for the budget problem? No,” the Dauphin County Republican said.

“But isn’t it the right thing to do to protect our children and compulsive gamblers?

Online gaming is considered a way to generate revenue for the state, but the consumer protection route might play better with a wider swath of lawmakers.

Is timing getting short for online poker in PA?

If the push to legalize online gambling and poker falls short this year, it’s future will become even more murky than it is now.

Payne and GO Committee Democratic Chairman Nick Kotik have both announced they will not seek reelection in 2016. Those two men have championed gaming expansions, and online gaming in particular.

If online gaming doesn’t pass this year, they won’t be around to drive momentum for legislation. And that could leave online gambling legalization in a precarious position moving forward in Pennsylvania.

- 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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