Pennsylvania's Latest Online Gambling Bill Moves Slightly Forward in the SenatePublished April 24, 2017 by Elana K
On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Senate Community Economic & Recreational Development Committee approved the latest online gambling bill, H 271. The bill moved to the Senate floor, but was immediately sent back to the CERD for amendments.
On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Senate Community Economic & Recreational Development Committee held a hearing to determine the fate of the state’s latest online gambling bill. The outcome? H 271 was passed by a 13-1 vote. Senator Robert Tomlinson, the bill’s reportedly biggest opponent, abstained.
Now that the bill has been approved, it needs to go back to the committee for further work. As it stands now, the bill only includes the authorization of tablet gambling at Pennsylvania airports.
The Strategy Behind the Bill
Last year, two online gambling bills reached the Senate, but the Senate chose inaction over having to make a decision. This time around, H 271’s sponsors tried a different approach: A few months ago, they sent the Senate a budget bill that laid out the state’s budget targets. Then, they sent this nearly-empty online gambling bill. Their hope is that the Senators will look at the budget targets, then at the empty gambling bill, and load it up with whatever actions are necessary to reach that target budget.
What Will the Senate Add to the bill?
Some of the previously-discussed options include: legalization and regulation of online gambling and daily fantasy sports (DFS), changes to Category 3 license restrictions in exchange for a one-time fee, and reinstating the local share tax for host and surrounding communities.
Then there are the matters of the tax rate and of video gaming terminals (VGTs), two hot-button issues that have posed obstacles to the state's online gambling endeavors in the past. Some agreement will have to be arrived at by both the House and the Senate in order for these issues to be resolved, and to move ahead with the bill.
For now, the bill is being reviewed by the Senate committee, and will then need to be sent back to both the House and Senate for approval.