Pennsylvania Passes Anti-RAWA Resolution  

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Pennsylvania State Representative John Payne, Online gambling bill.
Pennsylvania State Representative John Payne, who will attend Thursday’s committee hearing on Pennsylvania online gambling regulation. (Image:

As Pennsylvania prepares to hold its own hearing tomorrow (Thursday) to explore the potential of regulating online poker and casino games within its borders, its House Gaming Oversight Committee has passed a resolution (HR 140) that urges its federal delegation to fight RAWA.

The resolution, primarily sponsored by State Representative John Payne who introduced one of the state’s three draft online gambling bills this year, described itself as an effort to urge “the Congress of the United States to defeat H.R. 707 (RAWA) and any other legislation which would prohibit states from authorizing and conducting Internet gaming.”

While the resolution is largely symbolic, designed to create political awareness of RAWA, it’s the clearest indication yet that certain states resent the interference the bill would have in their right to determine their own laws.

In stating its opposition to RAWA, Pennsylvania might also be in a stronger position to lobby for exemption from it in the likely event that the legislation is signed into law. HR 140 was passed comfortably by the committee, with 18 for and 8 against.

Strong Message

“The passage of this resolution sends a strong and clear message to the U.S. Congress that Pennsylvania has the right to make their own legislative decisions about licensing and regulating online poker without the partisan influence of  Washington politics,” said John Pappas, the Executive Director of the Poker Players Alliance.

While RAWA’s recent congressional hearing was a largely one-sided affair, with witnesses drawn largely from the pro-RAWA ranks, Pennsylvania’s Thursday hearing is likely to be very different. 

State Most Likely To

As the process stalls once again in California, Pennsylvania has emerged as the state most likely to regulate, although perhaps not until next year. The Gaming Oversight Committee is composed largely of those who are sympathetic to the idea of regulation.

State Representative Payne sits as its chair, along with co-sponsor of the Payne bill, Representative Nick Kotik. Tina Davis, who not only co-sponsored the Payne Bill but also introduced one of her own, is also a member.

Representing the Adelson camp, and the interests of the Sands Bethlehem, is Andy Abboud, VP of government relations and community development at LVS, who is likely to get a grilling.

Thursday’s hearing will be followed by another on May 6th.

“We have talked to lawmakers in Pennsylvania and they are taking igaming seriously,” said Pappas. “The May 6 hearing will provide a forum to make our best case why the Commonwealth needs to act this year. 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.”

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