Last week, there was a flurry of activity in Pennsylvania as the House and Senate were able to pass an online gambling bill. The last step was for Governor Tom Wolf to sign the bill into law. It was expected that the governor would place his name on the measure and yesterday he did. Now, the state can prepare for a massive expansion of their gambling industry, including offering online poker and casino gaming.
Last Wednesday, the state Senate passed HB 271 with a vote of 31 to 19. The bill then moved on to the House where it was passed the very next day with a vote of 109 to 72. The bill was then sent to the Governor’s desk for approval. Wolf could choose to veto, sign the measure into law, or do nothing. By signing the bill into law yesterday, the state will now become the 4th in the United States to have legalized online gaming.
Among the online gaming aspects legalized in the state include poker games, table games, slots, lottery sales and daily fantasy sports. On top of the iGaming options, the state will also be expanding in other areas. Airports will now be able to provide areas for tablet gaming with truck stops set to install video gaming terminals. Ten satellite casinos can also be constructed in the state.
As far as online gaming is concerned, the 12 casinos already in operation in Pennsylvania will have the first opportunity to apply for licensing. Online poker licensing will cost $4 million with table games and slot games having separate licensing costs of $4 million. If a venue wants to offer all three gaming options, they can apply for licensing with a lesser cost of $10 million.
Tax rates have been set for iGaming which includes 16% for poker and 16% on table games. Slots have been taxed at 54% with many wondering if operators will even try to obtain a slot gaming license. With the majority of the profits going to taxes, many operators may not be interested in offering online slot games.
For now, it’s a waiting game to see who will apply for licensing and when sites will launch. There is a 60 day waiting period that must be completed before the process of the gambling expansion can begin.
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