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Pennsylvania legislature slow-rolls online gambling decision until the fall

TAGs: Pennsylvania

pennsylvania-online-gambling-vote-delayPennsylvania gamblers will have to wait until the fall to learn if their state will become the fourth to pass online gambling legislation.

Late last month, Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives approved a legislative package that included both online gambling and daily fantasy sports, as well as slots at off-track betting parlors and at six state airports, which will also be allowed to offer mobile gambling services to bored travelers.

Gov. Tom Wolf signed the spending portion of the state’s budget over the weekend, and legislators hoped to pass the revenue portion – including the gambling options – on Tuesday. Alas, legislators proved incapable of herding enough cats to pass the revenue plan, although they vowed to return and give it the old college try on Wednesday.

However, the Associated Press quoted Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Browne saying the gambling legislation would not be included in any revenue plan passed this week. Browne said gambling would have to wait until the fall, but he claimed the estimated $100m the gambling options are projected to raise in year one would be required to help close the budget gap.

Of course, anything can happen between now and the fall. The Senate could approve the House’s gambling package as is or approve some elements while expunging others. They could even sneak the gambling language back into the revenue package before this week’s vote.

It’s theoretically possible that vehemently anti-online casino boss Sheldon Adelson could marshal his lobbying forces to convince legislators to expunge the online component, but Sands Bethlehem president Mark Juliano’s most recent comment on the legislation was that Sands viewed the OTB slots proposal as a greater concern than online gambling.

With California’s bickering stakeholders no closer to consensus, Pennsylvania is/was America’s last best online gambling hope for 2016. Should Pennsylvania fail to pass online legislation this year, it would make four long years since New Jersey’s legislature authorized its regulated online gambling market in December 2012.

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