ONLINE GAMBLING LEGALIZATION OFF TO A FAST START IN PENNSYLVANIA (Update)
But the new bill is about to make licensing and tax expensive propositions.
Expectations that a revitalized online gambling bill in Pennsylvania would probably come from either Sen. Kim Ward or Rep. Rosita Youngblood have been pre-empted by state Senator Jay Costa, who this week took the initiative and launched a co-sponsorship memorandum as a first step to introducing a new bill which closely replicates the content of HB 1887, which our readers will recall was passed in 2016 by the House, but killed by the Senate's failure to vote the legalization forward at the last hurdle.
The differences lie mainly in the license fees and tax rate, both of which have been hiked. Like HB 1887, it appears that Costa intends his measure to be an omnibus gambling expansion bill which will also contain provisions to resolve the land casino contribution to host communities issue following last year's judicial rulings .
Costa's first draft includes the following provisions, according to the usually reliable publication Online Poker Report:
* License fees higher at $10 million for land casino operators taking their business online under the new bill, and $5 million for online technology suppliers. Daily fantasy sports operators and state airports which offer mobile gambling facilities will be charged $2.5 million;
* The airports mobile gambling initiative will initially be restricted to a five year pilot project and then reassessed;
* Tax rate higher at 25 percent of GGR for all operators and suppliers;
* State Lottery permitted to take its offers online;
* Online licenses confined to existing state license holders, but operators prohibited from offering online gambling on land casino premises;
* Land casino host communities to receive contributions from the operators set at the same level as those earlier declared unconstitutional by the State Supreme Court last year.
Senator Kim Ward's "informational" meeting apparently took place on January 3, but so far there have been no reports on its content and outcome.