New Bill seeks Regulated Pennsylvania Online Gambling

Yet another online gambling bill has been presented in Pennsylvania, with this one being dubbed SB 900. This is the sixth piece of iGaming legislation in the Keystone State, yet it seems like the most restrictive of them all.

First off, those living within 20 miles of a land-based casino in Pennsylvania would have to register for an online gambling account in person. This certainly defeats some of the convenience behind iGaming, however, the reason for this provision involves giving land-based casinos a better chance to appeal to their local customers. Nevertheless, this is quite an odd move when one considers that the three U.S. states with online gambling – Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada – don’t require anybody to register in person.

Another strange, potentially detrimental, part of SB 900 is that it levies a 54% tax rate on internet casinos. This is almost triple what the next closest state, New Jersey, charges at 20%. Aside from having to fork out 54% in taxes, Pennsylvania iGaming operators would also be expected to pay a $10 million license fee. And this fee would only cover 5 years, making the $2 million-per-year license bill seem rather steep for operating in a single state.

One more part of the online gaming provisions that raise eyebrows involve each casino only being granted one license. This differs from New Jersey, where casinos like the Borgata have forged networks based on multiple brands, like the Party Borgata network.

In addition to seeking money through iGaming channels, SB 900 also offers some land-based casino options, such as casinos paying an extra $5 million fee to sell alcohol 24/7. The current law states that Pennsylvania brick-and-mortar casinos must stop serving alcohol at 2:00am.

One thing worth stressing about SB 900 is that its main author, State Senator Kim Ward, says that everything is open to debate. So while some of the online gambling aspects seem very unfavorable to casinos now, they could be discussed and revised in the future.

Of course, there are also five other internet gambling bills on the table too. So lawmakers will have their pick between a lot of different legislation in trying to decide how the state’s iGaming operation will work. And if/when they approve a bill, it will allow Pennsylvania to open their 12.8 million residents to legal online gambling.