Pennsylvania’s online gambling aspirations got some pushback on Friday after state legislators filed a bill that would keep the state forever mired in the digital dark age.
Friday saw the filing of House Bill 801, aka the Banning Internet Gambling in Pennsylvania Act. The bill, filed by state Rep. Thomas Murt, was originally announced in January and has attracted four co-sponsors to date.
HB 801 would amend state law involving the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to ensure that the board “shall not promulgate rules and regulations allowing any form of internet gambling.”
The bill would also punish anyone caught offering online gambling services with fines of up to $300 for a first offense, $600 and three days in prison for a second offense, while further offenses would be considered a third degree misdemeanor, which carries the possibility of up to one year in jail and a $2k fine.
This isn’t the first time a ‘string ‘em up by their thumbs’ online gambling bill has surfaced in Pennsylvania, as Rep. Mario Scavello proposed something similar way back in 2014. Ironically, Scavello is now a leading proponent of Pennsylvania’s plans to include online gambling in a major gambling expansion meant to help close a budget shortfall.
Speaking of, the Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee has announced it will hold a hearing on the various gambling bills currently before the committee, including HB 801, on March 28 at 10am.
The state legislature had tentatively scheduled another joint hearing on gambling expansion proposals for March 20 to continue the discussion they began at last week’s hearing. It’s unclear whether this meeting will now take place.
The last hearing didn’t address the issue of allowing state bars, clubs and VFW halls to offer video gambling terminals (VGT), which has proven even more controversial than authorizing online gambling. With a few notable exceptions, most of the state’s 12 casino operators have been supportive or neutral on the online gambling issue, but most remain adamantly opposed to seeing the rough equivalent of slot machines in thousands of venues across the state.