PA Online Gambling on Hold Due To Budget Impasse

While there are several online gambling bills on the table in Pennsylvania, discussion has been stalled due to a budget impasse involving the Republican-controlled General Assembly and Democratic Governor Tom Wolf.

The state is seen as highly likely to legalize iGaming at some point in the future, and conducted several productive hearings on the industry this year. But as the budget is being hashed out, online gambling has been put on the back burner.

While it seems that legislation to legalize the industry won’t be pushed through, Representative John Payne, author of one the state’s leading iGaming bills, believes otherwise. The Democrat, who also heads the House Gaming Oversight Committee, recently spoke with CardPlayer and claimed that there is still a possibility of passing his legislation this year. But with only 25 house sessions remaining this year, it would be quite a stretch to believe that a bill could be voted on and amended in that short window.

Payne’s bill is the most sensible of those which have been introduced so far this year, and would levy a tax of 14% on iGaming operators. Another bill, floated by Representative Kim Ward, would charge a crushing 54% tax on legal Internet gaming sites.

For now, lawmakers are waiting to see which bills are selected to be discussed when the budget proposal are made. For his part, Payne believes that online gambling is the answer to the Commonwealth’s budget shortage. The state is the second biggest brick-and-mortar casino market in the US, following only Nevada, with a gambling-savvy populace. Analysts believe that the iGaming market could yield around $130 million annually there, and would stave off plans which would raise taxes.

Wolf however, believes that tough choices need to be made, telling the media last week that, “No one wants a tax increase. But in a democracy when we’re governing ourselves, sometimes we have to make tough decisions.”