Two Pennsylvania lawmakers recently announced that they intend to introduce new bills to legalize online poker. However, many experts have questioned the probability that either of their bills would be passed. A Senate committee recently held a hearing to debate the advantages and disadvantages associated with legalizing online gambling. The general tone of the hearing was positive, but some concerns were raised as well.
William Ryan, the head of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, appears to support efforts to legalize online gambling. Ryan pointed out that the state could generate revenue from taxing online gambling providers. However, he warned lawmakers to avoid being overly optimistic. Ryan said that New Jersey overestimated their online gambling revenues, which caused the state to face large deficits.
The majority of the state’s gaming providers also felt that the state should legalize online gambling. They feel that the state should limit online gambling licenses to companies with a physical presence in Pennsylvania.
However, a couple casino executives from Pennsylvania were a bit wary. Wendy Hamilton, the General Manager for the Sugar House Casino, said that lawmakers should observe other states first. Hamilton feels lawmakers should make sure online gambling would have a positive impact on the state and identify any issues that would need to be addressed before enacting a law to regulate it. Data from New Jersey shows that online gambling has driven traffic to land-based casinos.
However, Hamilton isn’t convinced that regulating online gambling won’t have an adverse effect on land-based gaming activities. She feels that it will take time for the industry to understand the impact that online gambling will have.