Make it four. After years of debate, the gambling scene in Pennsylvania has been blown wide open. The state is now the 4th in the nation to legalize online gaming and poker. The 3 other players are: Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (pictured at left) signed bill H271, which authorizes a variety of gambling options (we’ll get to all those), including daily fantasy sports.
While the bill was signed Oct. 30, the state’s Gaming Control Board must get everybody properly buttoned up and licensed before online gambling fully and legally launches. This regulatory prep work is expected to take a few months. Word is we’ll see online action in Pittsburgh and Philly sometime next summer.
The state says the wait will be worth it.
While Pennsylvania’s gamblers are excited to finally get some legal action, the state government estimates revenue from the new venture should add an annual $200 million or more to the coffers.
Most of that cash will come from licensing, meaning revenue may fall after the first year. It’s also believed it’ll cost between $4 and $10 million for a five-year online gaming license, depending on what specific contests the site provides.
What can Pennsylvania gambling operators offer?
There are a dozen licenses available, including online poker, online slots and online casino games. But a site could potentially operate more than one domain under the same license. In addition, current land-based casinos will get the first crack at licenses. Of course, lawmakers will be taxing online gambling to the tune of 54% for online slots and 16% for poker and casino games. So look for poker and casino games to be more popular.
Of course, Pennsylvanians have been playing daily fantasy sports sites such as FanDuel, Draft Kings and DRAFT for years — but now it’s all above board.
What about sports betting?
What isn’t new just yet, however, is the ability to legally bet your hard-earned cash on single sports events. That won’t happen until the federal government decides what to do about it. On the bright side, New Jersey is scheduled to appear before the Supreme Court in December in an attempt to legalize it. If New Jersey wins, residents of Pennsylvania will benefit from both online and land-based sports wagering.
So what can Pennsylvania gamblers do online?
What Pennsylvania gamblers can look forward to though are things such as an online lottery, gambling options at airports and truck stops and a maximum of 10 mini-casinos operating outside of a 25-mile radius from the state’s existing casinos. Specifically, the new bill allows tablet gaming in certain areas of airports as well as video games at qualifying truck stops around the state.
You don’t have to be a resident of Pennsylvania to enjoy the new online gambling (you must be inside the state lines), but you need to be 21 years old. However, all employees at a brick and mortar casino, are currently banned from one of them, or have placed your name on a self-exclusion list you won’t be able to play.
So while the new bill is certainly a reason for Pennsylvania gamblers top celebrate, the PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) is still blocking the way to sports wagering everywhere but Nevada. If all goes well at the Supreme Court (a big if) Pennsylvanians will be free to make online and casino sports bets on both college and pro sporting events from anywhere you can pick up an internet connection or mobile phone signal in the state.
We think it’s still a 50/50 proposition. But the appetite for online gambling is certainly there.