The Pennsylvania General Assembly is gauging the future of the state’s casino industry. A recent report from the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee stated that online gambling could be highly beneficial to the state’s economy.
The authors carefully studied developments in New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada. They pointed out that analysts overestimated the size of the online gambling markets in those states, but data shows the markets are growing steadily. They feel that online gambling would be a profitable industry for Pennsylvania as well.
Analysts are confident that the industry would generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the state. They used two different approaches to estimate the size of the state’s online gambling market. One set of analysts calculated the value of the market based on the Pennsylvania economy’s share of the nation’s GDP, while others studied the number of Pennsylvania citizens that played online poker before 2010. The committee report states that both figures indicate that online gambling would generate about $184 million in the first year and over $300 million each year thereafter.
The state casinos are expected to support legislation to legalize online poker in Pennsylvania. Preliminary research shows that online gambling wouldn’t negatively impact their land-based revenues. Gaming regulators from Nevada and New Jersey claim that the introduction of online gambling has actually helped grow their land-based gaming industries.
Lawmakers appear to believe that legalizing online gambling would be beneficial to the state’s economy. However, they will need to debate the best approach to take. One of the biggest challenges is deciding what tax rate to set if the state chooses to legalize gambling. Analysts have studied the tax rates imposed in New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada. However, they pointed out that they vary considerably and have low sample sizes, which make it difficult to determine which is most effective. They will need to study the implications of different taxes in more depth before drafting a proposal to regulate the industry.