After a key study on the business was released in May, a pair of Pennsylvania legislators have taken another step toward allowing legal and regulated online gambling in the state. Republican Senators Edwin Erickson and Bob Mensch introduced Senate Bill 1386 to the Pennsylvania Senate on Tuesday. Despite specifically mentioning poker in several places, the bill seems to lack any language that would limit online gambling in Pennsylvania to poker only.
The bill begins by noting that “Developments in technology and recent legal decisions have created an opportunity to legalize interactive poker as a means to further enhance and complement the benefits delivered by casino gaming, licensed facilities and the communities in which they operate.”
(The full bill is available here.)
A post at OnlinePokerReport.com notes that a key sentence was removed from an early draft of the bill. The now-missing phrase would have limited the offered games to poker only, leaving the impression that the intent may now be to offer other casino games as well.
The bill provides for an ability to enter into interstate compacts with other states that offer online gambling. With a weak start to the online gambling market in New Jersey, the ability to share player pools across state lines would be a useful addition.
The nascent online gambling industry in the US has suffered a flurry of bad news lately. Billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s campaign to prevent online gambling in the US has gotten some traction, perhaps more than was expected by the industry. One effect of his efforts is that the powerful lobbying organization for the casino industry, the American Gaming Association, recently made a high profile decision to remove itself from the dialogue about online gambling, because the topic was too divisive among its members.
Yet with today’s news, Pennsylvania has the potential to again change the outlook for online gambling in the US. Perhaps this Senate bill is an important step toward a fourth state legalizing online gambling.