Saturday July 2,2016 : PENNSYLVANIA BUDGET BILL SENT TO GOVERNORS DESK (Update)
$31.5 billion bill includes gambling expansion provisions.
With just hours to spare before the start of the new financial year on July 1, the Pennsylvanian Legislature has reportedly approved a $31.5 billion budget bill that includes online gambling legalization provisions and sent it to Governor Tom Wolf for signature within the next 10 days.
The bill passed on a vote of 144 to 54, with some lawmakers expressing concern regarding the raising of revenues to fund the big spend.
The York Dispatch quoted Appropriations Chairman Bill Adolph, who told members of the Legislature: “We’ve been working in a bipartisan manner; let’s continue. Now is the time, take the ball over the goal line. This budget is a compromise – it’s not everything that everyone wanted.”
Those opposing the bill included 45 Republicans and 9 Democrats.
The governor issued a statement after the vote that was generally supportive but cautioned he would not sign the main budget bill without a “sustainable revenue package to pay for it.”
Other media outlets reported that the state Senate had proposed a slimmer gambling component in the budget bill it returned to the House, but this has yet to be confirmed.
Earlier, the principal driver of the online gambling elements in the budget bill, Rep. John Payne, told Poker News that he hoped the legalization would be passed and sent to the governor, with lawmakers working through the weekend if necessary.
On Friday he said: "Well be here until 11 p.m. tonight, 11 p.m. Saturday night, and maybe well suspend the rules to be here all night. I think it will be decided between now and July 4."
The gambling expansion items in the budget bill include online poker, internet casinos games, daily fantasy sports, and the addition of slot machines in airports and off-track betting parlours, potentially raising $266.5 towards the overall budget, which this year is reportedly stable, but still carries the burden of a $1.8 inherited deficit.
Payne was upbeat about the budget and its gambling elements after he incorporated online gambling legalization proposals into a popular daily fantasy sports proposal, which passed the House by a 114-85 vote on June 28.
Talking about the gambling provisions in the budget bill, Payne noted:
"It has a little bit of everything but the kitchen sink in it. Theres supporters of iGaming, supporters of off-track betting, supporters of daily fantasy sports, supporters of slots at airports, and each one is picking up votes with some members. Normally, when you can get a coalition of people together and create a package, it strengthens a bill."