Pennsylvania remains favorite to join Nevada, New Jersey Delaware with legal online casinos

Four States Are Making A Late Push To Legalize Online Gambling

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State legislatures making last-ditch attempts to pass online gambling bills is becoming a yearly tradition.

Last year, efforts for Pennsylvania and Michigan online casino legislation kept us on the edges of our seats right through Christmas, and this year we see a late push in no less than four states.

In addition to Pennsylvania and Michigan, you can add Illinois and New Hampshire to this year’s watch list.

Here’s where each state stands going into the last full week of October.

Pennsylvania online gambling

Two weeks after the PA House of Representatives engaged in a testy floor session that saw a potential budget deal go up in flames, lawmakers returned to Harrisburg. This time there was considerable progress made.

After a two-week recess, the House passed a budget funding proposal last week. Unlike a previous plan, the House’s latest effort won’t be dead on arrival in the Senate.

According to Sen. Jake Corman, the budget and a gaming package could be wrapped up this week.

With the framework of a budget now in place, the Senate and House are also expected to put the finishing touches on a sweeping gaming bill that will make up the remainder of the budget gap, estimated to be somewhere between $225 million and $265 million.

Among the provisions that could be or are likely to be in the bill:

  • Legalization of online poker and casino games.
  • Authorization of online lottery sales.
  • Legalization of daily fantasy sports.
  • Authorization of satellite casinos.
  • Authorization of tablet gaming at designated airports.
  • Fixing the local share tax declared unconstitutional by the PA Supreme Court last year.

There are still plenty of things that could go wrong. But Pennsylvania is just a nudge away from becoming the fourth state to legalize online gambling, joining Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey.

Illinois online gambling

This week marks the start of what’s known as a “veto session” in the Illinois legislature.

Over the next few weeks, the legislature will have two small windows of opportunity to take care of unfinished business:

  • Oct. 24-26
  • Nov. 7-9

During this time it will ostensibly be focused on possibly overriding bills that were vetoed.

However, the legislature can tackle other legislation during that timeframe, including H 479, an online gambling and daily fantasy sports bill passed by the Senate that ultimately stalled in the House earlier this year.

As reported by OPR last week, two other bills could replace H 479 if the legislature does decide to go forward with online gambling, DFS or a combination of both:

  • S 209: That bill was referred to the House Executive Committee’s Gaming Subcommittee on Tuesday.
  • S 1531: The legislation was moved to the House floor on Tuesday. It was one of the possible vehicles for iGaming and DFS earlier this year.

Michigan online gambling

With active bills in the Senate and the House, online gambling is also still very much in play in Michigan.

From the sound of it, Michigan might be taking a page out of the Pennsylvania and Illinois playbook.

According to source chatter there, the Senate could take action on a number of gaming bills in the coming weeks, including online gambling and DFS.

On the House side, Rep. Brandt Iden has intimated he’d like to see movement before Thanksgiving.

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New Hampshire online gambling

A placeholder bill introduced earlier this year is back on the table in New Hampshire.

H 562, a shell bill that is only a couple paragraphs long, will be discussed during an executive session on Wednesday.

It’s possible the bill could be amended and passed during the session, making it eligible for a full vote by the legislature at a later date.

Passage seems like wishful thinking, but the measure may not be as much of a long-shot as one might first suspect.

Seemingly out of nowhere, New Hampshire legalized online lottery sales this summer. If some of the speculation surrounding the online gambling bill is correct — that the New Hampshire Lottery would be in charge of iGaming — the already passed online lottery bill and the online gambling bill might go hand in hand.

- 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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