PA Continues To Face Budget Shortfall, With Online Gambling A Possible Partial Solution

Penn National Says Looking At PA Online Gambling ‘Opportunistically’ During Budget Crisis

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An executive for Penn National Gaming expressed hope that online gambling could be legalized in Pennsylvania during Thursday’s Q4 earnings call.

What Penn National said on online gambling

The statements from a Penn National exec didn’t say much, but it did touch on online gambling briefly.

D. Eric Schippers, senior vice president of public affairs, was asked about legislative efforts involving gaming in various jurisdictions.

Penn National is one of many of the state’s 12 casino operators that would apply for a license to operate online casinos and poker, should it be authorized in the state.

Here was his takeaway on PA:

“I spent some time yesterday in Harrisburg. To say the situation there is fluid would be an understatement. The commonwealth is now looking at close to a $3 billion deficit, and all new revenue options are on the table.

And so we’re trying to look at it as we’re concerned with extending our existing investment — the 2,300 jobs we have at our Hollywood Casino — as well as look at it opportunistically to see whether we can get iGaming out of this.”

Schippers’ comments paint online gambling as being very much in the picture in PA, but not a lead-pipe lock, either.

The latest on PA and iGaming

The state legislature has been very interested in online gambling the first month-plus of 2017.

A gambling expansion bill that would include PA online casinos and poker is about to surface in the House.

Senate Democrats already relayed their intention to introduce a bill, and Senate Republicans are poised to do the same. Online gambling is likely to appear in the initial versions of those pieces of legislation, as well.

The problematic budget is a good thing for PA online gambling

As Schippers said, Pennsylvania needs to find revenue streams. Online gambling could certainly be one of the methods to fill the current budget gap.

The state is running behind on the current fiscal year to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Things only look worse in the future.

Lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf continue to consider drastic measures to make up the shortfall.

Online gambling is a way to create in excess of $100 million in revenue annually without some other painful tax hike or cut to current programs. That continues to keep it position as a good option in the current political climate in Pennsylvania.

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- 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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