NY Online Poker Bill Dead, Will Pennsylvania’s Bill Suffer The Same Fate?

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When it comes to online gambling in the United States, the sample size is small, but the results are big. New Jersey is a bright, shining success story. Outside the Garden State though, there is a massive desert with a few outposts desperately trying to build an oasis.

The drought may be close to over in Pennsylvania. That state’s online gambling bill is still alive and the legislature is still in session. New York, on the other hand, will not be passing anything this year.

While states individually fight to bring regulated online casinos into the fold, a new voice for the industry is trying to take the case for iGaming to the national level.

New lobbying group promoting online gambling

Those familiar with online gambling know the upsides. No one needs to fabricate the results from New Jersey’s robust online casino market. What the industry is missing though is a group spreading the word about its upside.

The American Gaming Association (AGA) supports the gambling community, but it admittedly has land-based casino interests at the forefront.

Enter the iDevelopment and Economic Association (iDEA). This new organization intends to solely promote the interests and benefits of the iGaming industry. The group launched this week, and did so with a bang.

iDEA commissioned a report on the New Jersey online gambling industry. Within its pages, the report both highlights the more than $100 million in tax revenue the industry generated since launching in 2013 and clear up misconceptions about online gaming. For example, the report deconstructs myths about land-based casino cannibalization, problem gambling, and underage gambling.

There are plenty of positive things to say about online gambling. Now the industry has the megaphone to get those things heard.

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Pennsylvania gambling expansion bill hinges on VGTs

There was not any action on the Pennsylvania gambling expansion bill in the state legislature this week. There was plenty of news regarding why the bill discussions are stuck though.

The culprit? Video gambling terminals (VGTs). The House version of the bill includes the introduction of up to 40,000 VGTs in the state. The machines would go in places like bars and truck stops, not casinos.

Needless to say, most casinos hate the VGT component of the bill. Sands Bethlehem owner Sheldon Adelson even launched a $1 million media campaign against the measure.

The divide over VGTs is massive. That divide appears to be too vast to quickly reach a compromise. The House and Senate are stuck in debate without a VGT resolution as of yet.

Meanwhile, Governor Tom Wolf made it clear in his statements to the press that he expects a final version of the bill without VGTs. Wolf did not explicitly mention VGTs in his comments. He did, however, state he wants a gambling expansion bill that provides the tax revenue projected for the budget without compromising existing land-based casinos.

New York will have to wait until 2018 for online poker

The hopes for online gambling in Pennsylvania are still high. There is no hope for New York though. The state Assembly adjourned on Wednesday, which means the online poker bill is officially dead.

This year’s online poker legislation did progress further than its predecessors at least. Like 2016, the Senate quickly approved the bill. Then it got stuck in the Assembly. Assemblymember J. Gary Pretlow, who previously opposed online poker legislation, tried to push it through this year with no luck.

Apparently the bad actor language the Senate added to the bill caused some issues. Previous versions of the bill did not include such an amendment.

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About

Jessica Welman has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and served as the managing editor for WSOP.com. A graduate of Indiana University and USC, Welman is not only a writer but also a producer. She can be found on Twitter @jesswelman.

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