Pennsylvania House Passes Online Gambling Bill

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a bill this week that would expand gambling to online sites, mobile devices, and airports. The legislation passed by a 114-85 margin and now heads to the Senate for a vote.

Rumors have been swirling for months that Pennsylvania will regulate online gaming to help shore up the budget deficit. And a serious step has been taken towards making this a reality.

The bill states that licensed Pennsylvania casinos can apply to the gaming board for an online/mobile gambling license. The online gambling licensing fee would be $8 million, and revenue would be taxed at a 16% rate – 14% for the state and 2% for economic development projects.

Mobile gambling, which would only be accessible in Pennsylvania international airports, would be taxed at a 54% rate – 34% to the state and 20% to the airport.

ABC Channel 6 reports that the legislation will also allow for daily fantasy sports betting. Industry leading companies like DraftKings and FanDuel could apply for a license with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, and pay a 5% tax to the state.

Moving away from online gaming, the bill will enable casinos to put slot machines at international airports. Casinos would have to apply to the gaming board, and, if approved, they could offer slots to ticketed passengers only. The fee to install slot machines would be $5 million at the Philadelphia airport, $2.5 million at the Pittsburgh airport, and $1 million for the Erie, Harrisburg, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and Lehigh Valley airports. Airport slot machine revenue would be taxed at 54% – 34% to the state and 20% to the airport.

Yet another place where Pennsylvania casinos could put slots under the new legislation is off-track betting parlors. The bill makes way for casinos to put up to 250 slot machines at any of the 10 licensed off-track betting establishments. The fee to do so would be $5 million, and the tax rate would be 54% – 50% to the state, and the remaining 4% split between the host county and municipality.

Assuming the federal government legalizes sports betting, this would also be an option under the new legislation. In this case, casinos would apply to the gaming board for sports betting at their casino and/or online website. No tax rate has been designated for sports betting yet.

The Senate will need to approve the bill before it’s presented before Gov. Tom Wolf. If both approve the legislation, it will likely be put into practice next year.