Despite being shelved in 2015, Pennsylvania online gambling is still up for consideration and is due for legislative action this spring.
Chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee and sponsor of a Pennsylvania online gambling bill Rep. John Payne predicted that HB 649 will be approved in July.
“Look, we need revenue,” Payne told triblive. “They’re not going to find votes for (higher) taxes in an election year. So I would think gaming will be a component” of the long-delayed state budget.
Based on Payne’s research, more than $120 million could be earned by the state within the first year that online gambling is in operation. The online gambling industry is expected to help the state’s budget deficit without raising taxes and would help shore up revenues for the state’s casino industry.
Payne’s HB649 would authorize the state’s licensed casino operators to branch out into online poker and casino gambling. It would also allow the addition of slot machines at racetrack operators’ OTB venues and at the state’s six international airports.
Rep. Steven Mentzer, in an op-ed on the budget situation of Pennsylvania at LancasterOnline.com, said that the lawmakers cannot agree on how to raise taxes to support the governor’s spending plan.
“Some Democrats prefer raising the personal income tax, and some prefer raising the sales and use tax,” said Mentzer. “My hope had been that we could find some additional savings and revenue from pension reform or liquor privatization, but those attempts were vetoed by the governor June 30. Current topics of discussion include increased tobacco taxes, gambling expansion, increases in the personal income tax, and a sales tax increase and expansion.”
Marketing director for 888poker and 888casino Chris Capra believes that Pennsylvania is essential in the expansion of Internet gambling in the United States.
“If Pennsylvania comes online, that’s a huge market, much bigger than Jersey. It doubles the player pool, which is awesome,” said Capra.
Payne announced his retirement effective November 30th 2016 but until then he remains committed to legalizing online gambling in state.