Pennsylvania Senator to Introduce Fourth Online Poker Bill

Pennsylvania State Senator Sean Wiley plans to introduce a fourth Keystone State online gambling bill which touches not only on iGaming, but on land-based casinos as well.

In a memorandum posted last month, Sen. Wiley laid out the key points of his online gambling bill.

What you need to know

Unlike the three other online gambling bills floated this year, Sen. Wiley’s legislation will legalize poker only, while giving the cold shoulder to casino table games. Existing casinos only would have the opportunity to open their own poker rooms after an impact assessment has been completed by the government to ensure that legalizing iPoker will benefit the state.

Casinos would be able to purchase online gambling licenses for $500,000 while paying a tax rate of 36%. Nearly all of that revenue will be used to lower property taxes for senior citizens, with the rest going to the horseracing industry in the form of a subsidy. If the Senator’s legislation passes, iPoker rooms would be able to open up shop no sooner than January 1, 2017.

Wiley says that by legalizing the industry now, the state of Pennsylvania will be grandfathered in, in the event that anti-Internet gambling legislation like the Restoration of America’s Wire Act was to pass.

The bill would further place a seven year moratorium on awarding the state’s remaining gaming licenses. “During this time, the Pennsylvania gaming market will mature so regulators can make informed decisions about market saturation in the future,” he wrote.

Brick-and-mortar changes

The legislation contains changes of interest to land-based casinos as well. The bill would repeal a law which only allows casinos to acquire one third of a second casino license, which was passed to prevent monopolies. Wiley believes that this is no longer needed, and hopes to overturn the legislation to make sure that the state’s brick-and-mortar casinos stay strong in the event that the market shrinks dramatically.

For daily fantasy sports fans, the bill would legalize the industry in the city’s casinos while keeping straight up sports betting illegal.

Finally, a Casino Reinvestment Grant Fund would be created and allow casinos to apply for grants for construction or expansion of their facilities.

Act 71 of 2004, the legislation which legalized casino gambling in the state, is hailed by Wiley as a rousing success. He hopes that by legalizing online gambling, thousands of new jobs will be created and possibly billions could be reaped to lessen the burden of property taxes and economic development costs.

“The gaming industry is constantly changing and we have to be flexible in our approach by allowing the industry to evolve without sacrificing the strict regulatory environment in which it operates,” he said.