Pennsylvania Senate Approves Online Gambling for First Time

A bigger gambling expansion bill containing online gambling has been approved by the full Senate in Pennsylvania. The Senate voted 38-12 in favor of the bill last Wednesday, marking the first time the Pennsylvania Senate have passed legislation containing online gambling.

Although the bill, H271, originated in the House of Representatives, it must return there for another round of debates. H271 began as a mostly empty bill, constructed by the House to give the Senate a framework from which to build the gambling expansion they felt the budget required.

As a tactic to finally see a piece of online gambling legislation pass in the Senate it appears to have worked, but at what cost? We will soon find out as Representatives began debating aspects such as the high 54 percent tax rate the Senate placed on online casino games.

As it stands currently, the bill allows for a maximum of 12 online gambling licenses – a number chosen to match the number of land-based casinos in Pennsylvania. However, as some legislators have noted, not all of the state’s casinos may decide to participate, in which case lawmakers are prepared to open online gambling license applications to additional entities.

The Senate was motivated to move on the bill to meet the state budget demands, which increases the chances of the bill passing into law before the end of 2017. Despite collecting the second-highest casino tax revenues in the nation Pennsylvania lawmakers are bent on getting even more tax revenue from casinos and online gambling is billed as the best option.

The question is, can the bill survive another back-and-forth between the House and the Senate?

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