New Online Gambling Bill In Pennsylvania Ahead of Hearings

 Pennsylvania online poker bill introduced

Tina Davis has introduced a new online poker bill in Pennsylvania, the third such bill introduced this year. (Image: William Thomas Cain/Cain Images)

The Pennsylvania online poker field has just become a little more crowded, as a third bill to regulate iGaming in the state has been introduced.

HB920, proposed by state Representative Tina Davis (D-Bucks County), would allow Pennsylvania to begin licensing and regulating online poker and casino games, but would come with some rules and restrictions that set it apart from the other bills currently awaiting consideration in the state’s House of Representatives.

The Davis bill is the third that has been introduced this year, following bills by state Representative John Payne (R-Dauphin County) and state Representative Nick Miccarelli (R-Delaware County).

While Payne and Davis have proposed full online gambling bills, Miccarelli’s offering would only allow for online poker.

In-Person Registration Required to Play Online

Davis’ bill is notable for its requirement that players register in person at one of Pennsylvania’s 11 casinos if they wish to play online. The casino taking the registration would then have to run checks to make sure the individual should be approved for online play before they could start gambling on the Internet.

This is similar to a proposal that was made in California by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale), though he later removed that provision after it was criticized.

The Davis bill also includes a 28 percent tax rate, with proceeds going to property tax relief, transit services and the horse racing industry. Only existing casinos could operate online gambling sites, and they would have to pay a $5 million fee to do so. License renewals would be offered at $500,000 for three years.

“Considering efforts across the country to legalize internet gaming, it is imperative that we maintain the integrity of our gaming industry amid inevitable federal preemption and competing states,” Davis wrote in a memo earlier this year.

“A responsible internet gaming system must be created in order to protect Pennsylvanians and the success of the established gaming industry in the Commonwealth, which has generated more than $7 billion in state tax revenue, and created more than 16,000 jobs statewide.”

Payne’s Bill May Have Inside Track

Davis has attracted a fair number of co-sponsored from fellow house Democrats, but it is unclear whether her bill is truly viable. Payne is the chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee, meaning that his bill may have the best chance of moving forward during the legislative session.

It is worth noting that Davis has signed on as a co-sponsor for Payne’s bill, while Payne has not done the same for Davis’ legislation.

The introduction of the bill comes as two hearings on Internet gambling have been scheduled by the Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee. The first of these panels, which has been on the schedule for some time, takes place on April 16 and covers “Internet Gaming and Mobile Gaming.” A second hearing on Internet Gaming was recently scheduled for May 6.

According to Poker Players Alliance (PPA) Executive Director John Pappas, the hearings are part of a serious effort by Pennsylvania lawmakers to better understand the issues surrounding the online poker industry.

“The May 6 hearing will provide a forum to make our best case why the Commonwealth needs to act this year,” Pappas told Online Poker Report. “I have little doubt that online gaming opponents will be out in full force, and we need to be prepared to crush their rhetoric with facts.”

Ed Scimia
Written by
Ed Scimia
Ed Scimia is a freelance writer and author from Bethel, Connecticut. He is the author of Catching Fish: Your Practical Guide To Beating $1/$2 No-Limit Texas Hold'em Games, which once spent a few hours at #1 on the Amazon Kindle bestseller list for poker books. Ed also serves as the Chess Expert for About.com. In the winter, Ed enjoys curling, which really is an Olympic sport.

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