Fifth Pennsylvania Online Gambling Bill in Works
Four Pennsylvania State Senators have announced their plans to introduce another pro-online gambling bill in the state of Pennsylvania, the fifth such bill this year that seeks to authorize and regulate the offering of online gaming in the state.
The latest addition to the list is a yet-to-be-introduced by PA State Senator Kim Ward, Sen. Robert Tomlinson, Sen. Elder Vogel and Sen. Joseph Scarnati (the State Senate’s president pro tempore. As with a bill introduced a week ago in the state’s Senate by Sean Wiley, the bill to be introduced by the four senators includes the authorization of online gambling as one element of an omnibus measure covering several gambling issues within the Keystone State.
The four Pennsylvania state senators announced their intent to introduce the bill via a memorandum sent on June 3rd to other senate member. The actual text of the bill has yet to be introduced, and the bill has yet to be assigned a printer’s number, but it is already known per highlights in the memorandum that the new measure will seek to authorize all forms of online gambling, rather than being a poker-only bill as envisioned in Wiley’s measure.
This new Senate bill, when introduced, will likely become the negotiations counterpart to PA Rep. John Payne’s HB 649 bill. Payne’s House measure is also an “all online gambling bill,” rather than being a poker-only bill. Payne’s HB 649 has also already received serious consideration via a recent House committee hearing, and appears to be leading the pack among the three online-gambling bills under consideration in the PA State House.
As with all other pro-gaming bills introduced to date, the new Senate bill calls for online operators’ licenses to be issued to those entities already holding gaming permits — meaning the state’s licensed land-base casinos. The only other known aspects of the new measure are that the online gambling would be available only to legal gamblers physically present within the state, and that the measure would create mandatory funding of some sort for problem-gambling treatment.
Here’s the complete text of the memo published by the four Pennsylvania pols on Wednesday:
In the near future, we plan on introducing legislation, which would amend Title 4 (Amusements), Part II (Gaming), known as the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act (Gaming Act) by providing for various enhancements and reforms.
Among the Gaming Act enhancements and reforms to be addressed in this legislation are the following:
The waiver of the Category 3 slot machine license (Resort Casinos) membership fee patrons are currently required to purchase at PA resort casinos, subsequent to the further investment via the payment of a one-time fee by the Category 3 licensee.
A casino liquor license would be available to all PA casinos upon the payment of certain fees, which would allow these 24/7 businesses to convert their existing restaurant liquor license so that alcohol may be offered during the same hours of operation as such is more consistent with their business model. Casino liquor licenses would be subject to being revoked or suspended upon three or more violations involving minors.
Category 1 (Racinos) and Category 2 (Standalone Casinos) slot machine licensees would be authorized to place a limited number of slot machines (not to exceed the number of slot machines currently authorized) at nonprimary and ancillary locations respectively upon the remittance of a fee for each additional location. The location of the nonprimary and ancillary locations will supplement the existing casinos business model and would be subject to various mileage limitations similar to those currently imposed on PA casinos.
Reduce the number of days on which Category 1 slot machine licensees are required to hold live races in order to strengthen the PA horse-racing industry by improving the quality of its races.
Existing PA casinos that offer slot machine and table games would be eligible to offer Internet gaming to individual patrons that have registered and established an Internet gaming account and are physically present in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania while playing online. In addition, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs would be required to develop expanded compulsive and problem gambling programs specifically related to Internet gaming.
These enhancements and reforms are reflective of the challenges faced both in establishing and maintaining the viability of the PA gaming industry in an increasingly competitive environment. It is imperative that we avoid the status quo and ensure PA casinos have the tools necessary to continue to thrive and guarantee the job security of the many men and women employed by the PA gaming industry. This proposed legislation is meant to ensure a healthy and vibrant business atmosphere for Pennsylvania’s gaming industry, while maximizing gaming revenue and the positive economic impact of gaming in the Commonwealth.