Pennsylvania Online Gambling Bill Suffers Setback Amid House Confusion

Elana K. - May 31, 2016

The Pennsylvania House voted against two gambling-related amendments last week; after the vote, the amendments were immediately reintroduced for further consideration.

Pennsylvania is walking a strangely delicate tightrope regarding the legalization of online gambling within its borders. Last week, two separate amendments that would have legalized online gambling in Pennsylvania were voted against by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. However, a motion for reconsideration of the amendments was immediately agreed upon, which means that all hope is not yet lost.

Confusion in the House

Back in November, State Rep. John Payne’s original bill, HB 649, passed a full house vote, which gave the lawmaker hope that it could go all the way. However, along the way, his bill was turned from an independent entity into an amendment, to be tacked onto the state’s general budget. This amendment, along with another gambling-related one, was voted on last week in the House of Representatives.

Payne thinks there was a lot of confusion regarding the two bills, and what was actually included in both of them. His bill, A7619, would allow online gambling, along with video gaming terminals (VGTs) at airport terminals and off-track betting sites. The second amendment, A7622, would allow VGTs at taverns, bars, social clubs and volunteer fire houses. Both amendments were voted down, but immediately after the vote on the second amendment, the floor leadership asked for the amendments to be reintroduced, which means that the bills are not dead.

They will likely be discussed again at the next House session, scheduled for June 6. Payne commented that he hopes there “won't be similar confusion" when lawmakers gather again.

Time is of the Essence

The deadline for Pennsylvania’s budget, including this amendment, is June 30th. If Payne wants his amendment to be tacked on, it needs to be done by then. It’s certainly not out of the question, especially if lawmakers can gain better understandings of both bills in time for their June 6 session.

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