Pennsylvania becomes fourth state to legalize internet gambling
October 31, 2017 3:00 AM
by Robert Turner
Pennsylvania is poised to become the fourth state to legalize internet gambling. Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said he supports expansion of gambling to help with a $2 billion deficit in the budget.
The Republican-controlled legislature refused to raised taxes, which the Democrats supported. The only resolution was to pass a broad gambling bill to close the budget gap.
The governor signed the bill Monday and now gambling will change nationwide. I feel this will be the start of the biggest gambling expansion in fifty years.
House Bill 271 authorizes online lottery, table games, slots, poker, plus daily fantasy sports to be legalized.
It also allows for airport gambling and ten smaller satellite casinos to be licensed.
The smaller casinos could operate 750 slots and 30 table games. Truck stops would be allowed five to ten slots/video machines. Taverns will also be allowed five to ten platforms for gambling.
Interactive gambling will also allow sports betting if approved on a federal level.
Allowing lottery on mobile devices could have a major impact across the country.
Some casinos were asking the governor to hold off on signing the bill. “We are beyond disappointed by the legislature’s ill-conceived and hasty gaming expansion plan,” Penn National Senior VP for Public Affairs Eric Schippers said in a statement. “We will be studying the entirety of the 970-page bill, which many in the legislature did not have the benefit of prior to voting.”
The state of Pennsylvania will open the flood gates for states like California, New York and Michigan to follow. Nevada, which has seen a rise in visitors the past few years, may see declines in gambling revenues if billions of dollars are now being directed to every pocket mobile device.
Nevada may have to rely on the convention business in the future for maintaining its economy. Pennsylvania, which has a population larger than Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey combined, stands to make millions in tax revenue.
Pennsylvania ranked number two in tax profits. $1.4 billion was reported in the last fiscal year and $11 billion to date since gaming began. Pennsylvania employs around 18,000 in its gaming industry.
Atlantic City, which has lost five of its 12 casinos in the past 10 years and seems to be rebounding, should be very concerned about the ten additional casinos the bill allows.
Also, if New Jersey wins in its battle in court for legalized sports betting, Pennsylvania will follow with its own version of sports betting, which will have a major impact on New Jersey.
New Jersey’s problem with Pennsylvania reminds me of the Garth Brooks song “Unanswered Prayers.” Be careful what you wish for.