Pennsylvania Senate Reviews New Online Gambling Bill

Pennsylvania State Senator Edwin Erickson recently submitted a new bill to legalize online gambling in Pennsylvania. The bill has been cosponsored by Senator Bob Mensch.

Erickson originally told his colleagues that he was drafting the bill in May. The previous bill would have restricted regulation to online poker. However, the bill has since been revised to allow the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board the discretion as to which forms of online gambling will be legalized. The rest of the bill appears to be identical to the previous version.

Erickson and Mensch’s bill contains a bad actor’s clause that would bar any companies that violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 from operating in Pennsylvania. The provision would extend to any intellectual property and player databases associated with any of these companies.

All gaming providers would need to pay a 14% tax on all online gaming revenues generated in the state. However, they could deduct promotions as an expense.

Any company convicted of offering online gambling without a license would be subject to a minimum fine of $75,000. Individuals involved would be charged with a first degree misdemeanor for the first offense. Repeat offenders would be charged with second degree felonies. They could also be charged with separate offenses of tax evasion if they didn’t pay the 14% tax.

The bill also contains a number of provisions to protect players from unnecessary losses, fraud and problem gambling. Some of the safeguards include:

  • Prohibiting bots from playing
  • Barring users under the age of 21 from accessing the sites
  • Segregating player and company funds
  • Requiring all online gaming providers to display information on problem gambling

State lawmakers have been considering legalizing online gambling for the past year. The State Legislature commissioned a study back in December. The details of the study were released last month, which showed that legalizing online gambling could be beneficial to the state. Representative Nicholas Miccarelli recently introduced a companion bill in the House. Online gambling advocates are optimistic that one of the two bills will be passed this session.