Following the lead of DelawareNew JerseyNevada, IllinoisNew YorkCaliforniaMassachusetts and several other states, the Pennsylvania Senators Edwin Erickson and Bob Mensch have introduced Senate Bill 1386, which would effectively legalize online gambling within the Commonwealth’s borders.  This most recent Pennsylvania online gaming bill comes on the heels of last year’s failed House Bill 1235.

Pennsylvania Online Gaming Bill Not Limited to Online Poker

Although the original draft of the bill appears to have been limited to online poker by including the following language: “[t]he board only may approve poker games pursuant to this chapter;” the final draft of the bill omits this language, as such, like the law in New Jersey, the bill would seem to allow for several forms of online gaming.  The motivation for drafting the bill with such an expansive stance on Internet gaming stems from the need to contend with the online gaming regimes of Pennsylvania’s bordering states of Delaware and New Jersey.  While Pennsylvania has a highly successful brick-and-mortar casino industry, second only to Nevada, Senators Erickson and Mensch have recognized the need to evolve and enter the online gaming arena.

Notable Topics of the Pennsylvania Online Gaming Bill

Pennsylvania’s online gaming bill contains many boilerplate online gaming provisions that we have seen before, such as bad actor restrictions, operator licensing fees ($5,000,000) and standard tax rates imposed on operators (14%).  Surprisingly, however, Pennsylvania’s online gaming bill does not appear to levy any penalties on players that play on unlicensed online poker or casino sites within the State.  Moreover, Pennsylvania’s online gaming bill also expressly permits interstate online poker compacts with other states that have legalized online poker within their borders.  As we have previously addressed on this blog, Nevada and Delaware have already entered into interstate online poker compacts with one another and New Jersey is expected to do the same in the near future.

Benefits for the State of Pennsylvania

In addition to the obvious benefits associated with tax revenue and licensing fees to be received by the State (which could amount to over $100 million), it is anticipated that online gaming would create thousands of new jobs for Pennsylvanians and allow the State to keep players, and the associated proceeds, from leaking into New Jersey and Delaware.

The development of Pennsylvania’s online gaming regime is a significant topic for all gaming attorneys and those interested in Internet poker and gambling in general.