Will Pennsylvania Pass Online Gambling Bill Before California?

Lawmakers from four states plan to introduce legislation to legalize online gambling in 2015. Most industry pundits believe California will be the next state to legalize some form of online gambling, but some experts believe that Pennsylvania may precede them. Pennsylvania Governor-elect Tom Wolf ran on online gambling in the November elections and plans to make it a priority in the coming year.

Wolf has pledged to help fix the state’s struggling school system and vowed not to increase property taxes. Regulating online gambling could be one the ways to reach this goal.

The State Legislature has been working towards legalizing online gambling since 2013. It commissioned a study showing that online gambling could have a positive impact on state revenues and create new jobs with minimal negative externalities. Lawmakers held two separate hearings last year to discuss the possibility of legalizing online gambling, but still haven’t introduced legislation.

The Golden State is also making progress towards legalizing online gambling, but will still likely face some challenges in 2015. The PokerStars Coalition has raised objections to a bill that would legalize online poker, because it contains a bad actor’s provision that would presumably bar PokerStars from receiving an online gambling license. The author of the bill has agreed to speak with the Amaya Group, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and three card rooms about the proposed bill. He believes that there is a 50-50 chance that the bill will be passed in the coming year.

While Pennsylvania may face some challenges passing an online gambling bill, the chances may be higher than in California. One study showed that the state could generate over $300 million a year from taxing online gambling, so state lawmakers will probably want to have new discussions as soon as possible.