Pennsylvania Has A New Law, New Casino, And $51 Million In Its Pocket

Lego men stacking coins
The gambling expansion bill became law in Pennsylvania on Monday. Already, the state has $1 million in the bank and another $50 million on the way.

Things are changing quickly in the Keystone State. Here’s your rundown of a busy week of news, including what happened, what people think will happen, and how other states might respond to what is happening:

Valley Forge first to put money in PA coffers

Before the week was even halfway over, the new gambling law started generating money for the state. Valley Forge Casino happily ponied up $1 million to expand its casino license.

The upgrade allows Valley Forge to immediately drop the $10 amenity fee for every visitor to the casino. Most expect Lady Luck Nemacolin Casino to follow suit. They are the only other casino in the state with a license requiring the fee.

In addition to the elimination of the fee, Valley Forge is now eligible to offer more table games and slots.

The money will keep rolling in for Pennsylvania in the next two weeks as well. Thanks to a change in the state gambling law in Monday’s bill, SugarHouse Casino dropped its longstanding lawsuit attempting to block construction on the new casino in Philadelphia’s Stadium District.

SugarHouse fought the new casino on grounds Parx Casino ownership had too big an ownership stake in the stadium-area casino. The law previously stated individuals could not own more than 35 percent of more than one casino in the state.

With the law gone and the lawsuit dropped, the new casino from the same folks who own Maryland Live! can move forward on their $600 million project. First though, they have to pay their $50 million casino licensing fee.

What to expect now PA is expecting online gambling

It will take a while to really see how the new gambling expansion law will look in practice. In the meantime though, there is plenty of room to speculate about anything and everything.

PlayPennsylvania partnered with Online Poker Report to put out a white paper exploring exactly what the financials of Pennsylvania gambling expansion will look like. Some of the things covered in the white paper include:

  • How much money it should net the state, both in the short and long term
  • Exactly what is now legal in the Keystone State
  • Trouble areas of the legislation
  • Forecasting what the market will look like in PA
  • Looking ahead to possible interstate compacts

The 900-page bill has a lot to cover. If we are being honest too, it is far from perfect. With high tax rates, satellite casinos, and video gambling terminals (VGTs), there are elements of this bill that many people within the gaming industry think have more problems than plus sides.

New Jersey and New York both have some thinking to do

Now that Pennsylvania passed online gambling, the eyes are on New York to act next. The state will revisit its online poker legislation in 2018. The bill, once again, sailed through the state Senate in 2017, but stalled in the House. Chairman of the Racing and Wagering Committee, J. Gary Pretlow, tried and failed to get the bill out of committee.

Now Pretlow is claiming the news in Pennsylvania has no bearing on New York being more in favor of or against online gambling in the state. Which is particularly strange given that Pennsylvania’s bill is structured to allow for it to join the compact with New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware.

Considering New York is contemplating online poker, one would think a compact with four other states the state could possibly be a part of would come up in the discussion. Pretlow seems to be increasingly unenthused with New York gambling though, both online and in the new casinos upstate.

Meanwhile New Jersey casinos are preparing to get into the Pennsylvania market as well. Certainly some will obviously take part, like Caaesars. PlayNJ has a rundown of all the major contenders though, including what avenue they will use to unlock access to the Keystone State.

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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.