Online Poker in Pennsylvania? New Bill IntroducedPublished March 3, 2015 by Elana K
Pennsylvania lawmaker John Payne introduces House Bill 649, which would legalize online poker in the state, even in the event that RAWA is passed in the federal government.
In the last week of February, Pennsylvania lawmaker John Payne introduced House Bill 649, a bill that would allow for the regulation of online poker in the Keystone State. The bill presents a rudimentary framework that would support Pennsylvania’s already-licensed casinos, with the option of expanding into a multi-state network that would allow pooling players from other states.
The bill, as it stands now, does not include a “bad actor clause,” which is good news for PokerStars, one of the largest online poker operators in the world. The term “bad actor” refers to an online gaming company that continued to do business after UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) was passed in 2006. PokerStars has run into trouble in the states that have thus far legalized online gambling, because all three states include some version of the “bad actor clause.”
Defender of States’ Rights
Payne’s bill comes at an interesting time; earlier this month, Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah introduced a federal bill that would ban online gaming all over the country: the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA). Payne maintains that his bill is not only aimed at regulating online poker, but on preserving states’ rights. “I don’t think it’s their authority” to control online gaming,” he said of the federal government.
Almost immediately after Payne's bill was introduced, it was referred to the House Committee on Gaming Oversight, of which Payne himself is the chairman. As of now, 18 Pennsylvania House representatives have already signed on as co-sponsors of the bill: nine Republicans and nine Democrats. The bipartisan support is certainly a good sign.
Benefits of Online Poker for Pennsylvania
Payne outlined the benefits of online poker, specific to the state of Pennsylvania. The main one? Money, of course. As of now, Pennsylvania is facing a $2 million budget deficit, and the tax revenue generated from online poker could change that. Moreover, Payne maintains, online poker could help create jobs, relieve property tax and generate economic growth.