Defeated Pennsylvania IGaming Amendments Will Soon Be Reconsidered

Things did not go as planned at the Pennsylvania House of Representatives last Tuesday, when lawmakers failed to pass two online gambling amendments, in part due to confusion over the authorship of both pieces of legislation.

Video game terminals

While Rep. John Payne has worked diligently for more than a year on his standalone online gambling bill, HB 649, two different iGaming amendments, A7622 and A7619, were up for consideration last week. The bills are similar in that they would both legalize online gambling, but diverge on the topic of video game terminals (VGTs).

A7622 would allow for VGTs (i.e. slots, video poker, etc.) to be placed in non-casino locations, like pari-mutuel facilities and at airports.

The amendment was defeated by a vote of 81-107, however. A7619 was nearly identical to Payne’s HB 649, but did not include the VGT language. The amendment garnered more support, but was ultimately defeated with a final vote count of 81-107.

Confusion in the House

But do to confusion of the authors of the aforementioned amendments, many legislators voted against bills that they had previously planned to endorse. Rep. Payne was erroneously listed as the author of both A7622 and A7619, but clearly only supported A7619.

Due to the error, Payne was forced to vote against the very amendment which he was said to have introduced. The confusion also led some lawmakers to vote against the VGT bill, when they meant to do the opposite.

Amendments will be reconsidered

But hope for PA iGaming is not yet lost. After the mishap, legislators voted to reconsider both amendments at a later date, possibly in the first week of June.

Online gambling is clearly supported by many Commonwealth Assemblymembers, who think that the revenue stream from iGaming can ease the burden of balancing the state budget. “Our goal is for gaming revenues to be part of the final budget package,” said House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, last week. “We wanted to kind of test it out in May, but obviously when we come back in June it will be full guns a-blazing trying to get a budget done, and that will be part of that process.”

House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont, was also open to the iGaming option. “I think there’s a better way to raise revenue that’s recurring revenue,” he said. “But if gaming has to be a part of it, I’m happy to talk about it.”