Online Gambling Legalization Key Part Of Pennsylvania Lawmakers’ Sweeping Gaming Bill

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Several members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives unveiled their gaming proposal on Thursday, with online gambling continuing to be in the mix.

The quick backstory on the new PA gaming bill

The legislation appears before a hearing in the House Gaming Oversight Committee scheduled for next Thursday.

The bill first surfaced last week when two of the bill’s sponsors issued a co-sponsorship memoranda for their gaming proposal.

The primary sponsor of the bill — HB 392 — is Rep. George Dunbar, with seven other representatives listed as co-sponsors.

The new chairman of the House gaming committee, Scott Petri, is not listed as a sponsor, nor is Democratic Chair Patrick Harkins. Last session, Chairman John Payne and Democratic Chair Nick Kotik were two of the most vocal supporters of online gambling. Both have since retired.

The bill also comes as Gov. Tom Wolf has earmarked $250 million in revenue from a yet-to-be-passed gambling bill for the state budget.

A look inside HB 392

On first reading (HB 392 is over 200 pages long), the nuts and bolts of the legislation is similar to legislation passed in the House in 2016. It includes provisions regarding online gambling, daily fantasy sports, a local share tax, and several smaller gaming measures.

That being said, there are several noticeable differences this time around. That includes a slot license operation fee that would solve the local share tax conundrum.

In addition to legalizing online gambling and daily fantasy sports, HB 392 would, among other things:

  • Fix the local share tax for host and surrounding communities by imposing a yearly slot license fee on Category 1 and 2 casinos, a plan first proposed by the Senate in 2016, that is equal to 20 percent of the casino’s initial slot license fee.
  • Authorize multi-state progressive slot machines.
  • Allow for skill-based and hybrid slot machines.
  • Authorize tablet gaming at certain airports.
  • Loosen restrictions on Category 3 casinos by removing the casino amenity requirement in exchange for a one-time fee.
  • Increases problem gambling funding and initiatives.

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Online gambling taxes and revenue

Most of the language pertaining to online gambling falls in line with what last year’s efforts called for.

There is a one-time fee of $8 million for an interactive gaming license, and a $2 million licensing for each interactive gaming operator. There is also a $250,000 renewal fee for interactive gaming licensees and $100,000 for interactive gaming operators.

The tax rate for online gaming operators would be 14 percent of gross gaming revenue, as well as a two percent tax on gross gaming revenue that the state is earmarking for host communities.

The bill does indicate where some of the money generated from online gambling would go:

  • The greater of $2,000,000 or .002 percent of all interactive gaming revenue will be transferred to the Compulsive and Problem Gambling Treatment Fund.
  • The greater of $2,000,000 or .002 percent of all interactive gaming revenue will be transferred to the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs to be used for drug and alcohol addiction treatment services, including treatment for drug and alcohol addiction related to compulsive and problem gambling.
- 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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