Pennsylvania Legislature Pitches Online Gambling Bill – Again

Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey are all in. California, Massachusetts, Ohio, Idaho, Hawaii and several other states want to join the party. What are we referring to? Online gambling of course. Back in early February we informed you of a possible move by Pennsylvania legislators to introduce House Bill 1235, a long-awaited online gambling bill. And even though State Representative Tina Davis had 11 cosponsors supporting the Internet gambling Bill, the wheels of government sometimes need a little greasing.

Evidently the right amount of political grease was applied to the appropriate gears, and the machinations of House Bill 1235 have finally begun. Basically, the proposal would let the state’s casino operators offer online casino games and online poker. Whatever Internet offerings were created would only be available to state residents, with travelers and tourists not allowed to participate. The bill also allows that the state of Pennsylvania could form agreements with other states and even international operators, much like the similar provision passed by Nevada a couple of months ago.

Interstate compacts are definitely where the big money is going to be found in the online gambling industry in the United States, as it allows states with smaller player pools to access larger groups of players in other states. As long as both states in a Pennsylvania online gambling partnership have legalized some form of online gambling or poker, the agreement would not need a federal okay. However, if Pennsylvania proposes partnering with another nation, the feds would have to give their seal of approval.

Any online gamblers would have to be 21 years of age or older, and would have to join a physical casino’s players club. This is to address the problem with verifying age of online participants, as each online Pennsylvania gambler would have to open an account in person at a corresponding brick-and-mortar casino. A player which has previously been banned from live casino play would also be denied online gambling access under the new bill.

The provision calls for a wide range of deposit methods, including cash, bank wire, money order, e-wallet and even credit cards and debit cards if approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Withdrawals will be made by check or bank transfer, and any game that is currently allowed in Pennsylvania casinos would be available for play over the Internet. This includes but is not limited to poker, slots, table games and video poker, and the first rash of online gaming licenses will only be available to current casino operators, at an initial fee of $5 million with $500,000 annual renewals. The bill has just recently been referred to the Pennsylvania Committee on Gaming Oversight, and must pass committee before moving onto the Pennsylvania House.