PENNSYLVANIA HOUSE AND SENATE PLAY ONLINE GAMBLING PING PONG (Update)
House returns Bill 1887 with online gambling additions.
The interaction between the Pennsylvanian House and the state Senate has become increasingly like watching a game of ping pong as the two political establishments wrestle with online gambling legalization and court-ordered tax fixes in the dying days of the current political season.
Our readers may recall that on Wednesday the Senate sent bill H 1887 – a measure designed to address a tax fix ordered by the state Supreme Court – to the House for approval.
However, in doing so the senators completely ignored bill HB2150, an omnibus gambling measure that includes the legalization of US internet gambling and daily fantasy sports, which the House had approved and sent to the Senate in June this year.
The House reacted Thursday by batting H 1887 back to the Senate, approving the measure…but with the addition of an amendment introducing the legalization language taken from HB2150 as lawmakers tried another tack to get the Senate to move on the issue.
The Senate is not currently scheduled to meet again until after the elections on November 8, in what is probably the last window of opportunity this political season.
Reports from the state capital indicate that senators are not necessarily opposed to the legalization of online gambling, and that the resistance to HB2150 stems from concerns regarding the expansion of slots in the physical environment (also contained in the omnibus bill).
Nevertheless, it is clear that there is opposition, perhaps even sufficient to kill legalization’s chances this year and force a new initiative in the 2017 political season.
The chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Pat Browne, sounded a pessimistic note Thursday, telling local reporters that there is no guarantee that the revised and augmented H1887 will pass, and that he had hoped the House would not insist on including the gambling expansion amendment.
He also noted that it has yet to be decided if the augmented bill will be voted on, and that not everyone in the senate was interested in seeing an expansion of gambling in the state.
That air of pessimism was expanded when the Republican general counsel in the Senate, Drew Compton, commented to reporters:
“We did what we did on gaming and I think that’s all we plan on doing for the rest of the year.”
Referring to the $100 million from legalized online gambling that would help shore up the states ailing budget, Compton said:
“We hope that come next year we’ll have some renewed energy in order to find the $100 million that we still know is pledged for the ’16-17 year.”
The Poker Players Alliance is now urging players who live in Pennsylvania to call their Senate political representatives and urge them to legalize now.