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Pennsylvania House Passes Massive Gambling Bill

Posted by Maya Michaels on Monday, October 30, 2017

Pennsylvania is one massive step closer to accepting a gambling bill

Pennsylvania is one step closer to becoming the fourth state in the United States with legal online poker and gambling.

Pennsylvania Edges Closer to Gambling Bill

The bill H271 was amended and voted out 31-19 by the full Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday afternoon.

The House voted 109-72 in favor of the bill on Thursday but Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf will have the final say since he has to sign the bill to become law. He has 10 days to sign or veto it.

Should the bill go through, Pennsylvania would join Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware with online legal gambling.  The bill would legalize online slot machines, online table games and online poker.

The bill H271 would allow the creation of 10 mini casinos, truck stops to operate video gaming terminals (VGTs) and also enable Pennsylvania airport passengers to play games on their table and mobile devices. The bill also addresses legalization of sports betting, selling online lottery products and regulates daily fantasy sports.

Existing Commercial casinos in the state would be able to acquire licenses to operate all three forms of online gambling at a price tag of $10 million. After ninety days, each license would cost $4 million. Internet based games would be taxed the same way casinos currently pay for live play in land-based casinos but the percentage of slots revenue would go for property taxes and other online casino games contributing to the general fund.

Gaming Revenue Rates

Tax rates on gaming revenue come in at 54 percent for slots, 16 percent for poker and 16 percent for table games.

These 16 percent are reasonable but 54 percent for slots is by far the highest rate for online gambling anywhere in the world. The bill would not have had enough support in the Senate at a tax rate that didn’t match that of a land-based casino. How operators would respond will be interesting to see.

The H270 Bill will mark the biggest gambling expansion in Pennsylvania since it first authorized casinos more than a decade ago.

Tom Wolf, a Democrat, will work on the bill next few days to evaluate and reach the decision on the gambling legislation but the sources say Wolf wanted recurring revenue out of any package, and out of gaming in particular. The bill was part of broader package to stitch together Pennsylvania’s deficit-riddled finances.

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