Pennsylvania legislators are in a mad dash to come up with a new gambling law that the state will substitute for the state’s now-invalid casino law.
According to different news reports, the Pennsylvania Senate committee targets to enact a comprehensive gambling bill that will resolve the resolve legal problems surrounding the $10 million a year payment to communities with casinos.
TribLive reported that Republican Sen. Mario Scavello, who has been recently installed as the chairman of the Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee in the Senate, has expressed confidence that a comprehensive bill will be approved.
“Sometime in March, we’ll have something done and passed in the House and Senate,” Scavello said. “It looks like online gaming has the support to pass. We can look at other expansions.”
At present, Republican Senator Kim Ward and Democrat Senator Jay Costa has pushed their respective versions of the new gambling bill which collectively may determine a legally acceptable method for continuing the “local share assessment” that most casinos pay to the communities where they are based and will eliminate the $10 “amenity” fee for people wanting to gamble at the state’s two resort casinos, including Lady Luck Nemacolin in Fayette County.
The new legislation will also address a wide range of gambling issues, including regulating daily fantasy sports (DFS) betting and allowing gambling at airports or other non-casino sites. The legislators will also attempt to make Pennsylvania the largest state to approve online casino gambling.
Of the two senators, Costa is very vocal on allowing all forms of online casino gaming, including slots and table games, and regulating DFS. Costa’s memo said the bill would impose a 25-percent tax on gross revenue from either form of gambling.
“I think it’s a natural progression of gaming in Pennsylvania, the next logical step,” he said. “To some degree, both (iGaming and DFS) are already present, particularly fantasy sports. What we’re doing is regulating it.
“I think the people of Pennsylvania believe this is something that’s appropriate right now.”
Costa, on the other hand, has pushed for steering some tax revenue from gaming expansion to counties adjacent to those with casinos. Ward and Scavello are both keen on hiking gambling tax revenue from expansion rather than boosting existing rates.
“They pay enough already,” Ward said. Noting the economic development and jobs casinos have brought to the state since the first one opened in 2006, she added: “We don’t want to do anything to hurt that.”