A bill that would legalize and regulate online gambling in Pennsylvania has been approved by the House Gaming Oversight Committee.
Pennsylvania would join Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey as the only states where online gambling is permitted if House Bill 649 is approved. Various gaming-related taxes and fees have been eyed as possibilities for dealing with a looming $1.6 billion state budget deficit.
The bill’s sponsor committee chairman Rep. John Payne said in a memo to House members, “Developments in technology and recent legal decisions have created an opportunity to legalize interactive gaming as a means to further enhance and complement the benefits delivered by casino gaming.”
He said online gambling could bring in an estimated $307 million, according to a 2014 study by a Philadelphia company. As it is now, he noted, millions of dollars are flowing to unregulated and untaxed gaming sites that do not benefit the revenue needs of state of state government.
HB 649 next goes before the House of Representatives. If it passes there it would then go to the Senate for consideration before being sent to Gov.Tom Wolf for his approval or veto.
Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. Email: