PA Online Poker Bill

Online Poker Back On Front Burner For Pennsylvania Legislature

Online poker and gambling is back on the agenda for the statehouse in Pennsylvania, after months of being on the sidelines and some legislative shenanigans in May.

What’s happening with PA online poker

The momentum for legalizing and regulating online poker was palpable at points in 2015, with hearings and committee votes advancing a bill that contained iGaming provisions.

But that legislation more or less went on hiatus. After once being included in discussions about the state budget, that idea was shelved until this spring.

Online gambling cropped back up last month, however, when the House of Representatives considered amending a bill with a gambling expansion package; iGaming was a part of the proposed amendments.

That effort failed, but it came up again this week. This time a daily fantasy sports bill was amended with gambling language, including online poker and gambling.

This new effort appears to have some legs, and could see votes in a House committee and the full chamber as soon as next week.

Not just online gambling

The bill is not just about online gambling. It has a lot of things stuffed in it, all related to gambling in some way.

The Associated Press breaks it down here, but the the bill, as currently written, also authorizes:

  • Daily fantasy sports
  • Slot machines at airports
  • Slot machines at off-track betting parlors
  • Sports betting (if federal law changes allowing it)

Things have changed in the House for iPoker?

What’s changed recently? House Speaker Mike Turzai appears to be entirely on board with the gambling expansion package. From Trib Live:

Turzai’s former chief of staff, Krystjan Callahan, is pushing for the video game terminals in his new role as a lobbyist at Maverick Strategies here.

“I’m open to supporting gaming revenue as an alternative to raising taxes provided it’s done in a responsible manner,” Turzai said. His vote depends on what’s in the final bill, he said.

Turzai has not always favored gambling expansions in the past, according to the report.

At the same time, criticism of online gambling has also ramped up, with a number of op-eds being published saying the state should stay out of iGaming.

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