Online Gaming Regulation Looms Closer in Pennsylvania5 years ago
For most of this year, politicians and lawmakers in the Eastern US state of Pennsylvania have debated on whether or not online poker and gaming should be legalized and regulated. Momentum increasingly swung behind the pro-regulation side of that debate as the year went on, with a number of bills tabled in the state’s legislature in recent months.
That momentum has grown a lot more this week as the state took a big step closer to formally legalising and regulating online poker on Wednesday. Pennsylvania’s House Gaming Oversight Committee voted to pass a bill – officially known as House Bill 649 – that will see online gaming legalised if it is passed.
The bill would see online gaming offered by Pennsylvania’s existing bricks and mortar casinos, and people over the age of 21 who wish to play on an online gaming network would be required to register with a casino.
Eighteen of the 26 Committee members voted in favour of the bill, in what was a sign solid, but not unanimous support. The tick of approval from the Committee was met with support from those from the pro-poker lobby, including the Poker Players Alliance, who said it was a step in the right direction for online poker in Pennsylvania.
However, those who hope to see a regulated and legal online poker industry in the state should not celebrate too much just yet, since the bill is to be voted on two more times before it can officially be passed into law. That is a process that could take some time and debate is likely to continue on the issue, which has divided opinions in some sections of the community.
With the potential of an online gaming industry in Pennsylvania to be worth up to US$300 million per year, money could be the deciding factor in the two future votes passing. That could especially be the case considering that Pennsylvania has had budget problems since the start of July.
Pennsylvania would be the largest US state to have a regulated online gaming and poker industry should the bill eventually be passed. That could inspire further debate in other larger US states like California, which has previously flirted with the idea of having a regulated online gaming market.
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