Thursday March 19, 2015 : PENNSYLVANIA HOUSE COMMITTEE STUDIES ONLINE GAMBLING LEGALISATION
Land casino executives give testimony.
With two conflicting bills on internet gambling legalization introduced this session, and competition from surrounding states growing, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives conducted a hearing this week at which land casino executives gave testimony on the subject.
The House Gaming Oversight Committee heard evidence Wednesday from Harrah’s Philadelphia General Manager Ron Baumann and Caesar’s Entertainment Group Executive Vice President Jan Jones Blackhurst.
The duo provided input to committee members on everything from regional competition to Internet gambling.
Blackhurst said that online gambling is already prevalent in Pennsylvania and the rest of the country:
“Internet gaming is here to stay, whether it’s a regulated product or whether it’s an illegal product. The Internet is not going away,” she pointed out.
“Today’s reality is that Internet gambling is taking place in all 50 states, almost all of it illegally. It’s an environment that’s ripe for fraud and criminal activity and it provides no tax revenue.”
Instead of opposing it, the answer was to properly regulate and licence online gambling, Blackhurst suggested, noting that there are already examples of how effective this can be in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey.
Legalising online gaming can create a safer gambling experience by adding state regulation and consumer protections, Blackhurst testified.
The senior Caesars Entertainment executive said that fears that online gambling would cannibalise land gaming business had proved to be unfounded, and instead the new genre was an opportunity to promote the land element in the industry.
Blackhurst concluded her testimony by saying that current efforts at federal level to ban online gambling were a concern to her, because these carried the potential for federal interference in the control individual states have always had over gambling.