Pennsylvania Becomes 4th State to Legalize iGaming
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf last week signed a major gaming expansion bill for the state, which includes legalization of online gaming.
The law is the state’s largest gaming expansion since 2004, when the state first legalized casinos. Pennsylvania is the fourth U.S. state to legalize online gaming, joining New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada.
Pennsylvania’s iGaming comes with a unique twist—casino operators both inside and outside of Pennsylvania may apply for licenses to operate gambling websites for use by people located within Pennsylvania’s borders. First preference will be given to Pennsylvania casino licensees.
The potential to combine Pennsylvania’s population with the other three iGaming states to create pooled games is being viewed as a potential profit-generator for the poker sites created under the law.
Online gaming is only one of many gaming expansions enacted when Wolf signed the budget law. iGaming and the other gaming expansions are projected to fill $200 million of the state’s $2.2 billion budget deficit.
Other parts of the expansion include:
- A provision for up to 10 satellite casinos spread across the state in areas that do not currently have casinos.
- Expanded gambling at airports and truck stops.
- Regulation and tax of daily fantasy sports betting. The law makes Pennsylvania the 17th state to enact a DFS law.
- The Pennsylvania Lottery is now authorized to offer instant ticket, lotto keno and other games online. The lottery may not offer casino-style games other than keno.
Should the federal ban on sports betting be lifted, Pennsylvania casinos can apply to the gaming board to offer sports betting for a license fee of $10 million. Online sports betting will also be allowed.
Wolf, who previously opposed many of the gaming expansions he signed into law, told reporters after signing the bill that the package represents the best scenario for gaming expansion.
“There’s been a lot of pressure from a lot of places in the commonwealth to actually expand this, and we do need some recurring revenue,” Wolf said, according to the Allentown Morning Call.
“Again, the goal has been all along to do what’s prudent, and not cannibalize existing gambling revenue coming to the state. And, I think what we’re settling on will actually do that.”
Major British iGaming news website Onlinecasino.co.uk speculated that Pennsylvania’s regulation of online poker and daily fantasy sports could reignite discussions of a possible customer-sharing pool with British iGaming sites.
“As part of the UK Gambling Commission’s drive to improve its services and make its market the best in the world, sharing resources with other countries has long been discussed,” wrote columnist George White for the site. “In light of this, the regulation of online poker, casino gaming and daily fantasy sports in Pennsylvania could bring talks of a possible deal back to the fore.”
Pennsylvania’s legalization of online gaming comes at the end of a five-year legislative battle, but lawmakers in some other states considering iGaming see it as a potential momentum-builder for their own online gaming proposals.
The law new takes effect December 22—60 days after Wolf’s signature.
After that, the state Gaming Control Board will promulgate regulations and hand out licenses to conduct iGaming, satellite casinos and the other expanded offerings. Observers predict that online gaming sites should be ready to launch by the second half of 2018.