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“Sometime in March, we’ll have something done and passed in the House and Senate,” Scavello told CDC.
“It looks like online gaming has the support to pass.”
Scavello’s take is especially relevant given his position as the new chairman of the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee (CERD), the gatekeeper committee for all gambling-related legislation in the Senate.
Lawmakers in Pennsylvania have been exploring the idea of regulating online gambling for several years. Those efforts reached a peak in 2016 when the state House of Representatives moved an online gambling bill through to the Senate.
That bill failed to clear the Senate prior to the end of the 2016 session. Supporters in the House were quick to point the finger at their Senate colleagues for obstructing progress on the issue.
While it’s far from clear or certain that Senate opponents have definitively backed down, Scavello’s straightforward assessment that online gambling has the necessary support to pass in the Senate suggests that one of the last remaining hurdles for online casino and poker regulation in Pennsylvania may be crumbling.
Exactly what legislative form online gambling regulation will take in Pennsylvania remains unknown at this point.
There are two primary questions in play:
Online gambling is only one of a wide array of gambling-related issues in play in Pennsylvania, including:
Stakeholders in the state’s gambling industry are deeply divided on many of the above issues, and the commingling of online gambling with too many additional issues could siphon critical support.
Likewise, the pairing of online gambling with one of the more contentious issues – such as VLTs – could rob regulation of the backing necessary for passage.
That type of impact is certainly not lost on lawmakers in Pennsylvania, nor is the over $30 million in taxes paid by New Jersey’s regulated gambling sites in 2016 alone.
Image credit: SenatorScavello.com.