Becky Liggero talks to PA House Gaming Oversight Committee Executive Director William Thomas as he gives an update on what’s happening on Pennsylvania coming from an online gambling regulatory perspective. He also shares why regulation of online gambling is important for the citizens of PA.
Becky Liggero: I am here with William Thomas. He is with the Pennsylvania Gaming Oversight Committee. So let’s start talking about what’s happening in Pennsylvania from an online gambling regulatory perspective.
William Thomas: Right now in Pennsylvania, we have about six proposals and both house representatives and the state senate are dealing with some form of online gaming/ igaming/ interactive gaming however you wanna say it.
We had some momentum going on our June budget but unfortunately some priorities kinda took over and igaming was kind of put to the back burner but Chairwoman [Rosita] Youngblood, who is the Gaming Oversight Committee democratic chairwoman; she’s hoping to kinda get the conversation started again this Fall when we reconvene this August. We are also trying to maybe hopefully make it a priority for the first of the year. We’ll have a new legislator potentially a new governor. So we’re looking to possibly make it a priority coming in to January to come full force on the igaming in Pennsylvania.
Becky Liggero: Why is it that you feel that regulation of online gambling is important for the citizens of Pennsylvania?
William Thomas: To reality, people are gambling online. They’re gambling on unregulated/ unlicensed sites. Some of those sites are not necessarily on up and up and we would like to see it regulated in Pennsylvania so that we can get the tax revenue and we can protect our constituents and citizens from somebody’s unregulated sites that they’re going on right now.
Becky Liggero: Some of the international regulated sites that offer services to America, they do have (some of them) protections in place but I do see your point.
William Thomas: I don’t want to insult any of them that’s for sure but for education perspective of our members, of the lawmakers in Pennsylvania really need to drive home that this is what’s happening in Pennsylvania. Unless you go to New Jersey or you go to Nevada…Delaware as well. If you’re gambling online, it’s illegal, illegal sites; you need to be on those states. So if you’re gambling in Pennsylvania, you’re doing it illegally; it’s unregulated and we don’t see any benefit from it as state of Pennsylvania.
Becky Liggero: What are you doing to educate the stakeholders in the online gambling industry in Pennsylvania about getting regulation pass and how important it is?
William Thomas: We held a hearing on May 1st. The Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus put together a hearing and Chairwoman Youngblood spearheaded the idea with Representative Tina Davies, who has legislation, probably the most comprehensive of the bills that are in there that would legalize internet gambling in Pennsylvania. What we are just trying is to get the information in front of them, the research and the materials that are out there and to dispel some of the myths that are currently going on about the internet space and internet gaming and really have them ask questions to those who knows best. Hopefully we’ll have a couple more hearings coming up with the entire Oversight Committee, both republics and then democrats and then in January, hopefully we can move forward some legislations and have the possibility of passing.