Pennsylvania Lawmaker Submits Bill to Join Multi-State Online Poker Compact

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A Pennsylvania lawmaker filed a bill that would allow online poker rooms operating in the Commonwealth’s to connect with those in other states.

Pennsylvania online gambling online poker
A Pennsylvania lawmaker wants to hitch his Commonwealth to America’s largest poker network.

If passed, the bill would require the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) to request membership in the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA).

MSIGA is the pact that allows states that regulate and tax online poker to share players. It began in 2013 with New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware, followed by Michigan in 2022 and West Virginia last year.

Rep. George Dunbar introduced House Bill 2078, which was referred to the Gaming Oversight committee March 5.

It attracted five co-sponsors: Republicans Aaron Bernstine, Barry J. Joswiak, Mike Cabell, and Ryan Warner and Democratic Rep. Ed Nielsen.

According to Dunbar’s bill, the PGCB has the authority to request membership into MSIGA, and will have to so 30 days after compiling a report determining whether or not operating a poker site over state lines violates Federal Law. A Federal judge already ruled that it doesn’t.

This clarification of who has auhthority is important to note because a spokesman for the PGCB told CardsChat a couple years ago the choice is up to the Governor.

The text reads: “The board, with the approval of the Governor, is hereby designated as the agency of the Commonwealth with the power and authority to enter into interactive gaming reciprocal agreements with other states or jurisdictions.”

Fractured online poker market

Online poker in America is legal in just seven states: New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Michigan, West Virginia, and Connecticut.

The last two listed do not have an online poker industry because they are too small to support one, and Delaware is on a pause because it’s transitioning to another software provider.

The industry is hamstrung because the legality of gaming in the United States is always left up to the states.

Without player liquidity — industry-speak on allowing players in one state to play on the same site as players in another — a network of cooperating states is the only way online poker will ever grow past being a footnote for the raging online gambling industry.

Rep. Dunbar included a note encouraging his colleagues to get on board with his bill.

“In the near future I plan on introducing legislation to direct the PA Gaming Control Board to request membership for Pennsylvania in MSIGA, the Multi State Internet Gaming Agreement. This membership will allow PA on-line poker players to compete with those in other MSIGA states (New Jersey, Michigan, Delaware and Nevada).

This action, also known as “shared liquidity”, is critical to a healthy on-line poker system. Much like what we have seen with multistate lottery contests, joining MSIGA will mean more players in the overall player pool. This makes for bigger tournaments allowing operators to offer bigger guarantees.

Since its inception, Pennsylvania has been the leader nationally in on-line poker revenue. Recently New Jersey, using the benefits of MSIGA, has surpassed us.

Join with me in co-sponsoring this legislation so that we may provide our poker players with a healthier system, more choices and return Pennsylvania to the top of the list in on-line poker revenue.”

Pennsylvania’s legislatures meet all year.

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