Pennsylvania Ready To Be Online Gambling’s Keystone State

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old fashioned key in keyhole
In terms of US online gambling, Pennsylvania appears poised to live up to it’s nickname as The Keystone State.

The truth is, Pennsylvania is not just know as The Keystone State because it was the middle colony of the original thirteen. It has this nickname because it holds a key position in the economic, social, and political development of the entire United States.

The US Constitution was written there. As was the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address. Now, while it will be hard-pressed to live up to the legacy of these documents, Pennsylvania lawmakers both drafted and passed a bill this week that will legalize and regulate online gambling inside the state.

Gambling expanding in PA

The bill authorizes a number of gambling expansion initiatives in PA, including:

  • Table games online
  • Slots online
  • Online poker
  • Daily fantasy sports regulation
  • Sports betting regulation if federal laws are amended
  • Online lottery sales
  • Video gambling terminals at truck stops
  • Tablet gambling in airports
  • 10 satellite casinos

Ultimately, it will be up to the state’s 12 existing casinos to decide if they want licenses to operate poker, slots and table games online. For the first 90 days after the bill becomes law, PA casinos can apply for a license for all three. It will cost $10 million.

After the 90 days are up, they can pay $4 million for each separately. If any of these licenses remain unclaimed, companies outside of the existing 12 PA casinos will be welcome to apply for them.

Tax equality, live and online

Tax rates were a bit of a sticking point in the creation of the bill. What PA lawmakers settled on was the same tax rates PA casinos are already paying on live casino games. This includes:

  • 54 percent for online slots
  • 16 percent for online poker
  • 16 percent for online table games

PlayPennsylvania recently released a white paper breaking down the state’s tax rates and expected online gambling income as well.

Gov. Tom Wolf signed the bill into law on Monday. Pennsylvania now joins New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware as the only states in the nation with legal online gambling.

The Keystone State

This is where the online gambling industry and its supporters hope Pennsylvania can embody it’s nickname.

You see, Pennsylvania legalizing online gambling is about more than just Pennsylvania. With a population of almost 13 million people, it will become the largest state in the nation to legalize and regulate online gambling. Pundits are also hoping it can be the key to bringing the whole country together behind online gambling.

The industry believes other states will not only take notice, but act. In fact, they’re hoping Pennsylvania is the big domino to fall that creates a cascade of others across the country.

The even larger state of New York has been flirting with the idea of passing online poker legislation the past few years. Pennsylvania could give New York the impetus it needs to finally pass that legislation in 2018. That would certainly knock another big domino down.

Should it happen, more dominoes will surely fall from coast to coast, all the way to the most populous state of all. Then, should California legalize and regulate online gambling, the rest of the country should not be far behind.

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Martin Derbyshire

About

Martin Derbyshire has more than ten years of experience reporting on the poker, online gambling, and land-based casino industries for a variety of publications including Bluff Magazine, PokerNews, and PokerListings. He has traveled extensively, attending tournaments and interviewing major players in the gambling world.

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