Pennsylvania Rejects Online Gambling Bill

Many thought there was a good chance that Pennsylvania would regulate online gambling this year. But the matter will have to wait because Pennsylvania’s House rejected legislation that would have legalized both iGaming and daily fantasy sports.

Republicans in the House and Senate have been pushing online gaming as a way to boost state tax revenue without raising people’s income tax. Pennsylvania is currently facing a $1 billion budget deficit that they must close, and iGaming would have helped this.

Now, Republicans and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf must work out a new solution to the state budget crisis.

This matter goes beyond just Democrats and Republicans failing to work out a solution. Even the state’s 12 land-based casinos are unable to agree on legal online gaming.

According to McCall, casinos like the Mohegan Sun are big proponents of legal online gambling while other casinos like Sands Casino Bethlehem staunchly oppose it. But one thing that these casinos can agree on is that they don’t want slots at airports bars, which was another part of the defeated bill.

“We would have never agreed to invest $659 million in Pennsylvania if we thought this was coming,” said Mohegan Sun CEO Michael Bean. “The inclusion of video gaming terminals in this bill is particularly troubling. If you add to the supply, it’s going to cannibalize the casinos. It will damage a model that’s been very successful for Pennsylvania.”

Mark Juliano, CEO of Sands Bethlehem, is opposed to all forms of expanded gambling, especially online gaming. And this is little surprise, given that his boss, Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson, has paid millions to lobby against iGaming.

“Obviously, we are a brick-and-mortar operation that believes in an integrated gambling and entertainment model that has proven very successful for us and Pennsylvania,” Juliano explained. “This goes against everything we’ve built.”

Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli, who has campaigned against online gaming, says that he’s morally opposed to legalizing the activity.

“(It) allows people to gamble wherever, whenever, including at work and at school,” he said. “For addicts, the temptation is sitting right there: in their phones, in their computers, at their desks.”

With a successful land-based casino business that’s made the state millions of dollars, Pennsylvania seems very receptive of gambling. But as of now, it seems that this receptiveness only extends to land-based gaming.