PA Reps. Youngblood And Dunbar To Make Another Go Of Gaming Reforms, Online Gambling Legalization

Pennsylvania Gaming Reform Bill Resurfaces In House Of Representatives

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Pennsylvania State Reps. Rosita Youngblood and George Dunbar are looking for co-sponsors for an impending gaming reform bill they plan to introduce in the near future.

In co-sponsorship memoranda that surfaced on Wednesday, Youngblood and Dunbar laid out their case, writing:

“As you may recall, the House Gaming Oversight Committee held extensive hearings last session regarding every aspect of Pennsylvania’s gaming industry. These hearings addressed numerous topics such as gaming expansion options, regulatory reform and innovative gaming technologies.

From these hearings, House Republicans and Democrats worked in a bipartisan fashion to create legislation that will ensure the integrity and sustainability of our regulated gaming industry and increase needed revenues, while focusing on consumer protections to rein in black market, off-shore gaming operators that prey on problem and compulsive gamblers, and could care less about protecting against underage gambling.”

The same but different

The key components of the bill are carryovers from legislation passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2016, including the legalization of online gambling and daily fantasy sports, a local share assessment fix, authorizing gaming tablets at international airports, and the removal of membership fees at Category 3 casinos.

According to the co-sponsorship memoranda, the bill would:

  • Fix the local share assessment issue by requiring all casinos, except Category 3 casinos, to pay a $10 million fee to host municipalities;
  • Regulate and tax iGaming;
  • Impose consumer protections on and tax online fantasy sports operators;
  • Allow gaming tablets in international airports;
  • Remove the Category 3 casino amenity requirement;
  • Streamline non-gaming vendor registration requirements;
  • Permit gaming manufactures to utilize private laboratories to test gaming devices;
  • Authorize the PGCB to create new regulations to allow for new types of slot machines;
  • Increase license, permit, and registration renewal periods;
  • Allow multi-state linkage of slot machines to increase jackpots; and,
  • Require uniform advertisement of the problem gaming assistance number.

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PA Legislature will have no shortage of bills to choose from

In 2016 the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a gaming reform package on two separate occasions, but were unable to convince the Senate to act on either measure.

The House bill being championed by Youngblood and Dunbar (both of whom were instrumental in shepherding gaming reform bills through the House last session) will provide a temperature gauge on where the chamber’s members stand on these issues, and what they want and don’t want in the final product; a product many believe will originate in the Senate.

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa has already put forward his gaming reform proposal, and Senate Republicans are expected to introduce their own plan in the not-too-distant future.

The overarching question is whether these proposals can be united into a single gaming reform package capable of passing both houses of the legislature.

- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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