The biggest change could come in Pennsylvania, where lawmakers are closer than ever to passing online gambling legislation. But, the bill will need a lot of changes before it passes another vote, or, more importantly, to work effectively.
Elsewhere, casinos and media companies are hoping smaller-scale changes like a new name can generate big results. Here is the rundown of all the big and little changes in the headlines this week:
Big step for PA online gambling, but is it in the right direction?
Let’s start with the good news. This week, online gambling legislation passed through two different state Senate committees. Then, it passed a full Senate vote. Next step is the House.
This is substantial progress, certainly. However, the bill in its current form is not exactly ideal.
After weeks of worrying that tax rates for online casinos would match brick and mortar rates, the result was worse. Instead of 16 percent on poker and table games and 54 percent on slots, the rates are 16 percent on poker and 54 percent on both slots and table games.
There is a silver lining though. The House is likely going to change some of the exorbitant licensing fees and tax rates. Online Poker Report spoke with Rep. George Dunbar, considered to be the most knowledgeable lawmaker in the legislature on online gambling issues.
Dunbar says he expect the bill to change substantially before the House sends it back to the Senate. Moreover, he acknowledged the tax rates were not practical. He also indicated his fellow Representatives would speak to casino owners in the state before acting on the measure.
Most casinos, save for Parx and Sands Bethlehem, are eager to bring online casinos to the state. The sticking point for some appears to be video gaming terminals in bars and truck stops though. Either way, progress is better than no progress, but Pennsylvania gambling still has a long road ahead before potential legalization.
What’s in a name? Two casinos about to find out
You can’t judge a book by its cover, but two casinos are wondering if a superficial makeover will be the difference between struggle and success.
The property wants to capitalize on two familiar names, so it will henceforth go by Resorts World Catskills. Resorts World is a premiere casino brand with high-end casino resorts across the world as well as the only casino located within the five boroughs of New York City.
The addition of Catskills hopes to add the recognition of the area’s history as a vacation destination for New Yorkers. Sure, its heyday was in the 1960s, but the addition of this upscale resort will hopefully draw visitors back from Manhattan.
Meanwhile, over on the West Coast, the sale of the SLS Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada already has the rumor mills churning. The loudest rumor is the property will be changing names. There is a chance the new owners give a nod to history though, returning the casino to its previous moniker, Sahara.
Yes or no on streaming service PokerGO?
PokerCentral tried to revolutionize poker TV content when it launched a couple of years ago. In a couple of days, it will try again. The poker media site is launching PokerGO, a subscription streaming channel which will feature an array of live poker content. The schedule includes the $300,000 Super High Roller Bowl next week, an array of World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet events, and, in a partnership with ESPN, live coverage of the WSOP Main Event.
The cost per month is a relatively low $10, or users can pay $99 for a year subscription. Nonetheless, the poker world is divided on the development. US Poker’s Steve Ruddock posits this might just be the next big iteration in poker programming. However, our own Martin Derbyshire takes a much different stance. He believes this is the death knell for substantial poker growth.
The Super High Roller Bowl at Aria Casino in Vegas begins next week, so we will soon find out which one is closer to accurate.
Photo by Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock.com
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