Pennsylvania’s online gambling legislative hopes aren’t completely dead, but a queue of expectant undertakers has formed just outside the door.
Tuesday saw Pennsylvania’s state legislature conclude what was supposed to be its final day of sitting before the November 8 election, but no action was taken on the online gambling and daily fantasy sports bill the House of Representatives approved in June.
Late Tuesday, the state Senate approved quick-fix legislation to temporarily restore funding that local municipalities lost last month when the state Supreme Court struck down a local slots tax as unconstitutional. But the Senate declined to add online gambling language to this bill, which didn’t matter, since the House never got around to passing the Senate bill on Wednesday.
The House announced that it would reconvene at 9am on Thursday, leaving open the slim possibility for action on gaming issues. Barring that, the House has two remaining sessions scheduled for Nov. 14 & 15, while the Senate will meet on Nov. 16. But some state reps told local media that gaming wouldn’t come up for discussion until the next legislative session commences in January.
That new legislative session will feature a brand new legislature, whose makeup and intentions can’t be guessed at. But one certainty is that Pennsylvania’s online gambling champion, Rep. John Payne, won’t be in it, as the veteran lawmaker is retiring.
Earlier on Wednesday, GamblingCompliance scribe Sara Friedman reported that nine of Pennsylvania’s 12 casino operators had addressed a letter to the House and Senate leadership expressing their opposition to having to pay a new local share tax to replace the old plan the Supremes struck down.
The letter stated that the nine operators wanted to make it “abundantly clear” that while they held differing opinions of online gambling’s merits, “we would all much rather have internet gaming in lieu of any additional tax.”
Should Pennsylvania fail to push online gambling legislation over the hump in 2016, that would leave Michigan as the sole remaining hope for ending America’s nearly four-year legislative losing streak. For the record, New Jersey was the last state whose governor signed an online gambling bill, and that was way back in February 2013.