September is always an exciting time for online gambling advocates. State legislators return from summer break, several of which are still trying to push online gambling through in their state. Certainly it is not as busy and promising as the winter. However, after a long summer of nothing, any forward motion feels good.
Perhaps that is why news the Pennsylvania House finally stopped holding up proceedings on a budget and, in turn, gambling expansion, felt so big. In reality it is not though. The House took a step, but about the smallest step it could.
Meanwhile, New Jersey continues to blow expectations out of the water when it comes to online casinos. August was a near-record month for the industry, and something Pennsylvania should be noticing.
Finally, the summer stand off between the state of New York and the Seneca Tribe is making progress, but its trajectory could be the longest of all if the two groups are not very open to compromise.
Here is an update on all that forward progress, small and large:
Pennsylvania making progress…slow progress
After weeks of refusing to pass a budget, the Pennsylvania House managed to do just that this week. After hours of arguing, House members just barely passed a bill to address the $2.2 billion deficit in the latest budget.
The plan includes $1 billion obtained by borrowing from other funds as well as a $1 billion loan. The remaining $225 million is set to be covered by gambling expansion.
This all sounds well and good until you hear Gov. Tom Wolf’s comments on the budget. He publicly bashed the proposal in part because it puts the state $700 million in the hole for the following year.
The next step for the budget process is for the House and Senate to sign off on a compromise. As for online gambling, it will not get discussed until there is a budget resolution. The good news for online casino supporters is that time is of the essence. As of Friday, Pennsylvania officially ran out of money to pay the bills.
New Jersey continues to make online casino progress
While Pennsylvania struggles, Atlantic City continues to thrive. In fact, last month was the second-best month ever for New Jersey’s online casino industry. Collectively, the sites took in over $21 million. That number represents 32 percent year-over-year growth compared to August of 2016.
However, as always, casinos continue to grow at rapid rates. Meanwhile, poker remains stagnant.
Borgata Casino will hopefully see an online poker uptick in September thanks to its popular Borgata Poker Open bringing players from all over the country to the Garden State.
There is one poker player who won’t be playing though, and that is Phil Ivey. The Poker Hall of Famer hopes to appeal the $10.1 million judgment against him in his baccarat law suit against Borgata. His case cannot move forward until there is a resolution with a related suit against card manufacturer Gemaco.
That suit had quite the revelation this week. Ivey’s partner in baccarat, Kelly Sun, revealed in her deposition that she can read the card backs of literally every kind of casino deck.
If Sun can prove this, it would be a huge blow to Borgata’s case against Gemaco. After all, the casino claims the company is liable for manufacturing the allegdly faulty decks used in the sessions.
New York and Seneca Nation finally move forward on casino payments
After several months of no talking, it appears New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and representatives of Seneca Nation are actually going to meet and discuss the tribe’s stoppage of payments on its NY casinos.
Cuomo dodged several meetings with the tribe, but now it is the state moving for binding arbitration on the casino compact. This comes just a couple weeks after Cuomo publicly threatened to bring in a commercial casino to Niagara to compete with Seneca’s property.
This is progress, but like Pennsylvania, it is a very small step. The last time these two parties ended up in arbitration, it took years to settle the matter. For local communities dependent on those casino payments, that may be time they cannot afford to lose either.
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