Pennsylvania’s official nickname is The Keystone State for the central role it played in the founding of the United States of America, and the formation of important laws governing the new colonies. But legislation concerning gambling both online and off in Pennsylvania has looked more like something out of an episode of the Keystone Cops in recent years. Fatty Arbuckle and the boys were much more successful in garnering laughs and falling all over themselves in the pursuit of Charlie Chaplin than they were in upholding the law, and many gambling statutes in Pennsylvania have been just as ineffective and without focus.
Pennsylvania Representative Tina Davis surely hopes that there will not be any comparisons to the legendary silent movie comedians when her online gambling legislation is introduced to key lawmakers in that state. Davis recently confirmed that she will indeed be placing a Pennsylvania online gambling package before her fellow legislators in an effort to hold onto that state’s national second ranked position in land-based gambling, while branching out to the virtual gambling world as well. With Nevada days away from shuffling up and dealing for the first time online, and states like Hawaii, Ohio and New Jersey moving for online gambling, Pennsylvania would be wise to push legislation through so they could position themselves favorably for the upcoming online gambling avalanche which appears a foregone conclusion in the US.
What Davis proposes as an ammendment to the current Pennsylvania Gaming Act is for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to oversee the operation and licensing of a comprehensive online gambling package which would allow online poker and other casino games. Davis has a licensing application fee set at $16.7 million, with tax breaks for online gambling operators in Pennsylvania to apply to operating costs and other virtual casino overhead. Pennsylvania recently overtook New Jersey as the second-ranked brick-and-mortar gambling destination, standing only behind Nevada, the perennial and long-standing United States gambling Goliath.
When Pennsylvania allowed for extra 12 brick and mortar gambling casinos to be built, that meant that state’s residents no longer had to travel to New Jersey’s Atlantic City to enjoy some Las Vegas style casino wagering. This both increased Pa gambling revenue, while hurting NJ’s. This also accounts for 6 straight years of Atlantic City posting declining revenue in its annual financial statements. With Pennsylvania already supporting a physical gambling atmosphere, Representative Davis is hoping to carry that support to the World Wide Web. She posted the announcement January 25, appropriately enough on the Pennsylvania House of Representatives web site online .
In an interview with eGaming Review Davis stated, “A responsible Internet gaming system must be created” to protect Pennsylvania residents and ensure the ongoing success in the already established Pennsylvania gaming industry. She also pointed out that more than $7 billion in state tax revenue has been created by their brick and mortar casinos, with 16,000 jobs created statewide. Obviously, the reach of the pervasive internet would give Pennsylvania a chance to grab even more money, and position them as a leader in the early stages of legalized online gambling in the US.