Online gaming hearing season is upon us. The Pennsylvania Committee on Gaming Oversight has already hosted one formal hearing on online gambling (and several other informal hearings), and has yet another on the schedule for May 6. California’s Governmental Oversight Committees in the Assembly and Senate are prepping for online poker hearings of their own, including two joint hearings (on May 22 and June 24) between the Assembly and Senate GO Committees. These hearings will likely see the usual cast of characters brought in to testify, which means some will be good and some not so good. Here is the list of people I would invite to speak at an online gaming hearing were I in charge of the invites. I’m going to abstain from listing any of the iGaming industry’s consultants, executives and power players at online gaming sites, or people whose livelihood is completely tied to online gaming. The goal isn’t to stack the deck with pro-gaming witnesses, it’s to create a comprehensive and well-balanced list of people who will tell it like it is, with a couple of advocates and detractors thrown in for good measure. The way I see it, there are six categories that need to be addressed. 6. Does the technology work? The efficacy of the technology in place at online gaming sites is one of the most hotly debated topics between iGaming advocates and detractors, yet the people who are in charge of making sure the technology the industry uses is up to the challenge are rarely invited to speak at hearings. Instead we get hypothetical assessments and blanket speculation from laymen masquerading as experts on technology they don’t fully understand, have never used, or simply don’t trust. If you really want to understand the capabilities of the technology being employed in the iGaming industry you need to talk to these two people. Anna Sainsbury GeoComply GeoComply is responsible for a lot of the geolocation technology being used in the regulated online gaming industry, and Anna Sainsbury, GeoComply’s CEO, has done a great job of calmly and coolly explaining how the company’s technology works whenever she has been asked to do so. The real-time demonstrations of geolocation technology slams the door on any detractor trying to poo-poo the ability to ring-fence a market. Matthew Katz CAMS CAMS is one of several companies handling the all-important player verification checks for regulated online gaming sites. CAMS CEO Matthew Katz is well-versed on the topic, as well as being open and honest when it comes to how the company performs these Know Your Customer (KYC) checks, as well as their limitations. 5. That’s all well and good, but let’s look at the numbers The next topic that needs to be addressed is the numbers. How much revenue can online gambling bring in and what will the market size look like? Forget Morgan Stanley and their ever-changing predictions about the potential size of the U.S. online gaming market. Or Wells Fargo and their pipe dream estimates of the potential revenue in New Jersey. Lawmakers need to hear from focused gaming analysts who have spent countless hours poring over online gambling revenue and traffic data, and more importantly, analysts who understand the iGaming zeitgeist. Chris Krafcik Gambling Compliance is considered one of, if not the top industry publication on a number of fronts including market data analysis, and Chris Krafcik is the man at the helm. Few people can match Krafcik when it comes to experience in this field. Krafcik has testified at several hearings, including the contentious hearing that took place in California in April of 2014. Adam Krejcik Adam Krejcik, an Eilers analyst and veteran of the gaming conference circuit, is another person who can be trusted to properly analyze data and make level-headed predictions of where the industry will be in five or ten years. 4. Opinions of problem gambling experts might surprise you What makes problem gambling such an important issue is that detractors of online gambling like to portray the industry as something that will expand the problem gambling rolls, but when you talk to the experts, they paint a different picture. An often-overlooked aspect of online gaming is its ability to detect problem gambling behavior. Similarly, by regulating online gaming, states are able to funnel more funds into problem gambling initiatives, such as the way New Jersey forces online operators to set aside $250,000 to fund problem gambling research and help groups. Keith Whyte Keith Whyte is the National Director for the National Council on Problem Gambling, so he’s certainly not a big fan of gambling of any kind. That being said, he’s also a thoughtful witness, and understands that online gambling is already available in the U.S., and unless we go full police state online gambling is likely to always be available in the U.S. in some way, shape or form. Whyte has repeatedly stated that online gaming sites have better detection methods than brick and mortar casinos, and he’s also indicated that proceeds from online gambling can be used to fund problem gaming initiatives. Parry Aftab Parry Aftab’s day job is Internet security, but the head of WiredSafety has long held the point of view that regulation of online gambling would help protect Americans, particularly kids and at risk gamblers. Aftab proved to be a credible and knowledgeable witness during her performance at the recently held hearing in Congress on Sheldon Adelson’s proposed online gambling ban, RAWA. The fact that she doesn’t have any allegiances to iGaming also helps her integrity. 3. Don’t forget the lobbyists No hearing would be complete without letting each side make the case for or against regulating online gambling. The trick to picking which lobbyist to invite is to keep the vitriol and the hyperbole to a minimum, which can sometimes be hard when dealing with lobbyists and gambling. With that in mind, my suggestion would be to invite two people (one from each camp) and allow them to make their case for and against online gambling. What we don’t need are anti-gambling zealots with their own agendas asking for policies that are either archaic or will simply never come to pass. John Pappas The head of the Poker Players Alliance has proven himself time and time again to be well spoken, insightful, and educated on why online gambling regulation would be a positive for the casino industry, state, and the players. John Pappas is a regular speaker at hearings, has submitted testimony to Congress, and is a veteran of gaming conferences. Andy Abboud Proving I’m willing to hear from both sides, I’d be more than happy to have Andy Abboud, or another representative handpicked by Sheldon Adelson to appear and testify. There are enough logical, factual based speakers on my hypothetical panel to allow one person to go completely off the rails and make wild unsubstantiated accusations. There are two reasons for this:
Most of the time they do more harm than good.
I truly believe our side has the facts and the better argument. 2. Regulators… mount up One of the many glaring omissions at the recent Congressional RAWA hearing was the lack of any regulator on the witness list. As Chris Grove noted, they held a hearing on regulated online gambling without inviting any regulators. This is a particularly egregious oversight when you consider three states (two in close proximity to Washington D.C.) have legalized online gaming, and four others have legalized online lottery sales. I would be happy with virtually any gaming regulator from one of these states, but two really stand out in my mind. David Rebuck My first choice would be the man who is currently in charge of overseeing the nation’s largest regulated online poker market, New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement chief David Rebuck. Not only has the DGE done a stellar job regulating the industry, they’ve also been forthcoming with their data and assessments, and gone above and beyond to allow iGaming press access to their bureau chiefs. AG Burnett My second choice would be AG Burnett, the head of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Burnett is my second choice because his state has only legalized online poker and doesn’t have to oversee online casino games. But as the nation’s oldest gaming state, any Nevada regulator should be well-versed on the industry, and Burnett has proven himself several times at gaming conferences where he has done an excellent job explaining the capabilities and difficulties of regulating online gambling. 1. I fought the law and the law… testified? The legality and enforcement measures law enforcement has to work with is the one area I haven’t seen addressed often, or in much detail at online gaming hearings. It would be informative to lawmakers if someone could stand before them and explain the history of online gambling enforcement and law, and what tools the current laws and interpretations of said laws prosecutors have at their disposal. Preet Bharara What better person to testify on illegal offshore online gambling and what tools the government has at its disposal than the man responsible for bringing about an end to PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and AP/UB on Black Friday? His name may amount to a cursed word in poker circles, but Preet Bharara was simply doing his job, and based on the outcome he was doing it quite well. Gaming Law expert “X” In addition to Preet Bharara it would also be instructive for Congress and state lawmakers to hear from a legal expert in gaming law, and get their take on the current legality and application of laws, the Wire Act, UIGEA, as well as answering any other gaming law questions the committee members may have. There are plenty of qualified individuals in this area to choose from, and since I’m not acquainted with many of them I’ll refrain from singling one or two out.

The future of the Lawrence Downs Casino and Racing Resort project outside of Pittsburgh is again in doubt, according to a report by The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The problems for Lawrence Downs Joseph Procacci, the main investor in Lawrence Downs, has said through his attorney, John O’Riordan, that his plans for the casino and track could be scuttled. From the Trib-Review: Among the deadlines put in place? The first race at Lawrence Downs must be hosted by October of 2017. Seeing as the project is still not close to having ground broken, getting the track complete in less than two years seems like an unlikely timeframe. The Trib-Review also noted that “losing the project would cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue,” according to O’Riordan. Procacci is the sixth investor to attempt to complete a racino in Lawrence County since 2004, the T-R reported. The appeal is expected to be considered before the end of the year. The lay of the land in Western PA for gambling Lawrence Downs, if and when it is completed, would become the second racino and fourth overall gambling establishment in that part of Pennsylvania — fifth if you count Presque Isle Downs and Casino near Erie. There have been some concerns about market saturation for gaming in that part of the state; that’s part of the reason why Penn National reportedly backed out of plans to develop Lawrence Downs. Given the problems over the past decade with bringing Lawrence Downs to fruition, it’s fair to wonder if Procacci is truly the last hope for getting the project done. Racino issues come amid possible giant gaming expansion in PA As the Lawrence Downs racino faces an uncertain future, a possible gambling expansion could drastically change the landscape in Pennsylvania. A bill that once was simply an online poker and gambling regulation bill has been turned into a catch-all expansion bill that recently passed a House committee vote. That bill would, as written, make a number of changes to state gaming law. For example:
Racinos could offer slot machines at up to four off-track betting locations.
Airports could add slots if partnered with casinos.
Liquor service could be offered around the clock at casinos, with an additional fee. The desire to implement these and other gaming expansions — and the impetus to actually get Lawrence Downs up and running — are both open questions at this point.

1 Penn National Gaming
2 Pinnacle Entertainment Rumor has it one Pennsylvania casino giant is in talks to take over one of its competitors. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Penn National Gaming was in discussions with Pinnacle Entertainment regarding a possible merger. Representatives from both companies refused to comment. However, stock prices for both companies went up in the wake of the rumors. Penn National Gaming Penn National Gaming has its headquarters in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. However, the company has its roots in the Penn National Race Course in the Harrisburg suburb of Grantville. Also, the company owns and operates some 26 gaming properties in the US and manages one in Canada. In Pennsylvania, it owns and operates the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville. This property includes the Penn National Race Course that opened in 1972 with a one-mile dirt course and seven-furlong turf course. Also, the track hosts thoroughbred racing 52 weeks per year. Additionally, the Hollywood Casino opened at the property in February 2008. Table games were added in accordance with state laws in July 2010. The casino now boasts almost 2,500 slot machines and more than 50 tables. Also, there is a live poker room on site. The Hollywood Casino brand is Penn National Gaming’s largest. In fact, Hollywood Casino has properties in seven other states, including:
Missouri Some of Penn National Gaming’s highest profile casino properties include M Resort in Henderson, Nevada and Tropicana Las Vegas on the Las Vegas Strip. Pinnacle Entertainment Pinnacle Entertainment has its headquarters in Spring Valley, Nevada. However, the company traces its roots back to the Hollywood Park Turf Club racetrack in Inglewood, California. It now operates 16 casinos in nine states and a horse track in Texas. States with Pinnacle Entertainment-run casinos include:
Ohio Pinnacle Entertainment’s Pennsylvania casino is the Meadows Racetrack and Casino. The Meadows Racetrack and Casino is a standardbred harness racing track and casino just outside of Pittsburgh. A temporary casino opened at the track in 2007. However, it was replaced by a permanent casino facility in April 2009. Also, table games were added in July 2010. Additionally, there are more than 3,000 slots, 65 table games and a 14-table poker room at Meadows. Pinnacle purchased Meadows for $138 million in September 2016. Pinnacle Entertainment’s largest casino brand is Ameristar. Plus, Ameristar properties can be found in:
Colorado The rumors persists the two companies have held on-again, off again talks with Penn National Gaming interested in buying Pinnacle Entertainment. However, the two sides have not agreed on terms so far.

1 A tight race at the top
2 Just two PA casinos see declines
3 More than $108 million in taxes collected For the first time this year, Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem became Pennsylvania’s top-grossing casino in September. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board released total gambling revenue figures for the month of September last week, showing Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem pulled in more than $47.5 million. Parx Casino has held the revenue lead every month this year prior to September. However, the Philadelphia-area casino fell to second among the state’s 12 casino properties, posting $47.4 million in revenue throughout the month. Parx was the top-grossing casino in the state in 2016. It claimed more than $551 million in annual gambling revenue. Sands was a close second, posting a little more than $535 million throughout the year. While Parx held a strong lead in slots revenue in 2016, Sands earned almost $70 million more from table games, bridging the gap. A tight race at the top It has been close at the top through the first eight months of the year. However, Parx has been putting a small distance between itself and Sands every month until September. With just three more months until the end of they year, Parx would still have to be considered the favorite to remain Pennsylvania’s top-grossing casino in 2017. The news was good across the board for Pennsylvania’s gambling industry in September. In fact, total gaming revenue was up more than $10 million, or 3.86 percent, compared to September 2016. Total statewide gambling revenue hit $271 million in September compared to $260.9 million in the same month last year. Just two PA casinos see declines In fact, just two PA casinos saw revenues decline. Mohegan Sun Pocono’s total gambling revenues were down 3.56 percent from $21.5 million in September 2016 to $20.7 million last month. Additionally, Presque Isle Downs and Casino saw its total gambling revenue drop 3.37 percent from $11.5 million in September of last year to $11.1 million last month. The biggest gains were seen by Mount Airy Casino Resort. Its total gambling revenue jumped 8.69 percent from $15.9 million in September 2016 to $17.3 million last month. Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh also saw some impressive gains. Its total gambling revenue rose 8.02 percent from $26.1 million in September of last year to $28.2 million last month. Statewide table game revenues were up nearly 10 percent from $68.7 million in September 2016 to $75.6 million last month. However, slot machines continue to be the biggest earners at PA casinos. In September 2017 alone, statewide total slot revenues hit more than $195 million. More than $108 million in taxes collected Pennsylvania collects a 16 percent tax on table game revenues and a 54 percent tax rate on slot machine revenues. The total tax gambling tax revenue collected by the state in September 2017 was $108,307,631.75. Pennsylvania lawmakers are still considering legalizing online gambling in the state as a part of budget deliberations this year. The hope is online gambling can bring in an additional $200 million in tax revenue for the state. Image credit: Andy Borysowski /

1 What the PA gaming expansion bill does
2 Online gambling licensing in Pennsylvania
3 Will it get signed?
4 About those tax rates…
5 The journey begins for legal online gambling in Pennsylvania With the stroke of a pen, online poker and gambling will become legal in Pennsylvania. The bill lies on a desk awaiting the signature of Gov. Tom Wolf, who has ten days to sign it. On Wednesday, Oct. 25, after several years of tweaking and amending, the Pennsylvania Senate approved H 271 which legalizes online poker and online gambling in PA. Today, the House approved that bill by a vote of 109-72. All that remains for the bill to become law is for the governor to lend it his autograph. Pennsylvania would become the fourth state to legalize online poker and gambling, following New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada. Estimates for additional government revenue brought in by this bill are around $250 million. What the PA gaming expansion bill does The bill would legalize online slot machines, online table games and online poker throughout Pennsylvania. It also regulates daily fantasy sports, sports betting (if federally legalized), online lottery, video gaming terminals at truck stops, and tablet gaming in airports. It also authorizes up to ten satellite casinos, which are smaller template gambling centers set up in lower population zones. Additionally, the bill changes Category 3 licenses to remove the membership fee for a higher one-time fee. The government outlines its fiscal estimates on the bill here. Online gambling licensing in Pennsylvania After the bill is signed into law, the state’s existing 12 casinos would have 90 days to apply for a discounted license to operate all three forms online gambling (poker, slots, and table games). The discounted price is $10 million, which after 90 days increases to $4 million per license. Only after the existing PA casinos decide whether or not to apply for a license can out-of-state entities apply to be an online gambling operator. Will it get signed? Wolf has historically maintained a cautiously open-minded approach toward online gaming legislation. But confidence is high that he will sign it. His main hesitation has been that online gaming should not steal revenue away from Pennsylvania’s current legal casinos and gaming outlets. The bill’s tax rate would be 16 percent for poker and table games. Online slot machines would be set at 54 percent to match the current rate set for land-based slots in the commonwealth. About those tax rates… It appears legislators have come to an agreement that these are suitable tax rates that they believe will not impact local gaming businesses, but others disagree. Eric Schippers of Penn National, which operates the Hollywood Casino, has been quoted saying it is considering suing to stop the bill. “We’re considering our legal options because this would have a uniquely punitive effect on our casino, more so than any other casino in the state,” Schippers said. Penn National’s issue with the bill centers around the fact that the company believes satellite casinos will impact its business more than other casinos throughout Pennsylvania. In an earnings call Thursday morning, Schippers saw “significant flaws” in the bill, noting the 54 percent tax rate for slots. “We’re going to have to weigh all our options, and we’re going to have to dissect the 970 pages and go from there,” Schippers said. Other critics of the tax rate have come forward to say that if $10 million is the price tag, no one will pay it. With razor thin margins in New Jersey for online gaming, there are few if any who would risk $10 million for such a slow and uncertain return on investment. With questionable trends in Pennsylvania’s slot machine performance, a high tax rate may not be the appropriate solution to declining revenues. The journey begins for legal online gambling in Pennsylvania Time money will tell if the current tax rate will make sense for Pennsylvania. One thing is certain. If Wolf signs the bill, it will only be the end of the beginning of online gaming’s legislative struggle.

Pennsylvania officially became the fourth US state to legalize online gambling when Gov. Tom Wolf signed the comprehensive gambling expansion bill on his desk last week. Now, the question is: Who will get online first? The Pennsylvania Senate approved H 271 on Oct. 25, legalizing online poker and online gambling in PA. The very next day, the House approved that bill by a vote of 109-72. New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada were previously the only US states to pass online gambling legislation. The PA gaming expansion The new law makes it legal to operate online slot machines, online table games and online poker throughout Pennsylvania. However, there are also a number of other gambling expansion initiatives attached. The new law regulates:
Daily fantasy sports
Sports betting (should it be legalized federally)
Online lottery sales
Video gaming terminals at approved truck stops
Tablet gaming in approved airports It also authorizes the construction of up to ten satellite casinos at under-serviced locations a specified distance from one of Pennsylvania’s 12 existing casino operations. Online gambling in Pennsylvania now legal Tax rates were heavily debated in the lead up to the passage of the law. PA lawmakers ultimately settled on the very same tax rates brick and mortar casinos in the state are already paying. This includes:
54 percent for online slots
16 percent for online poker
16 percent for online table games The state’s existing 12 casinos now have 90 days to apply for a license to operate the three different forms online gambling. PA casinos can apply for a license for all three. It will cost $10 million. PA casinos are also welcome to apply for any of the three separately. These licenses will cost $4 million each. If any of the 36 available licenses remain unclaimed following the 90-day period, companies outside of the existing 12 PA casinos will be allowed to apply for them. Getting ready for market While it took New Jersey close to nine months to launch of regulated online gambling from the day online gambling legislation passed, PA is expected to get things done a little faster. Regulators in New Jersey have paved a path for Pennsylvania. Plus, the process may be fast-tracked because it will only involve existing gambling licensees at the outset. It is also worth noting that Pennsylvania’s fiscal year ends in June. Lawmakers are certainly hoping to see the initial licensing fees come in before then, ensuring the revenue is on the books for the current fiscal year. Still, the question remains as to which of PA’s 12 existing casinos will be applying for the first licenses. Possibly passing Penn National Gaming operates the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course. The organization has been critical of some aspects of gambling expansion, particularly satellite casinos. It is unlikely to apply for one of the first online gambling licenses as it is reportedly pursuing legal options to combat the law entirely. Parx Casino was critical of proposed tax rates in the creation of the bill. Parx executives also expressed a fear online gambling operations would cannibalize the brick and mortar casino business. It remains unclear if the legislation that passed will draw Parx online. Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem owner Las Vegas Sands Corporation and its CEO and Chairman Sheldon Adelson have represented the largest opposition to online gambling legislation in the US for years. It might appear hypocritical if Sands applies for a license in PA. However, the competition may force its hand. Ready to roll Philadelphia’s SugarHouse Casino and owners Rush Street Gaming launched a New Jersey online gambling site under the Golden Nugget Atlantic City’s internet gaming permit in September 2016. Considering the company’s interest in online gambling, and the fact it has the software ready to roll, SugarHouse Casino could very well be one of the first to apply for table games and slots license in PA. Caesars Entertainment owns and operates Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack. Its Caesars Interactive Entertainment subsidiary also runs World Series of Poker-branded online poker rooms in New Jersey and Nevada. The Nevada site also shares player pools with 888 Poker online poker sites in Delaware under an agreement between the two states signed in 2015. New Jersey also signed on to join the agreement in October. As a result, Harrah’s and Caesars are a good bet to apply for one of the first online poker licenses in PA.

1 VGTs could lead to sleepless nights
2 Not every truck stop will qualify for VGTs Truck stops just got a little more interesting last week. The recently-passed Pennsylvania gambling expansion law contained many new bits of legislation, one of them being the introduction of video gaming terminals (VGTs) into truck stops. The state’s coffers are happy; more VGTs means more revenue. Casinos, not so much; more VGTs means less foot traffic on their gambling floors. Truck stops and truckers? That’s an interesting one, according to Pennsylvania newspaper The Daily Item, which interviewed truckers and employees at a PA Flying J truck stop. “Truck drivers now are mandated to spend hours resting and they need something to do,” employee Randy Snyder told the paper. “They get bored. I’ve seen some people play these non-lottery games for hours. I believe they’d welcome another diversion. It would be a good way to pass the time.” The Morning Call talked with a trucker named Barb McDonald, who agreed with Snyder. “I think it’s great. Drivers can sit and gamble when they have their breaks,” McDonald said, going on to point out that a trucker’s break is 10 hours. VGTs could lead to sleepless nights As Snyder mentioned in his defense of VGTs, truckers are mandated to rest for a certain number of hours each day. Truck stops like Flying J provide a place for that rest to take place. Truckers can park their rigs in designated spots, fill up on gas, take hot showers and get a hot meal. Only problem is, the presence of VGTs could pull truckers away from their bunks and into a night-long poker binge. One trucker told the The Daily Item he didn’t object to VGTs being in truck stop, but he’s concerned that truckers won’t use their resting time for resting. Not every truck stop will qualify for VGTs The new Pennsylvania gambling legislation is pretty specific about which truck stops are allowed to have VGTs and which one’s won’t. First, it’s important to point out that eligible locations will be allowed to have up to five video poker terminals. Second, truck stops will have to meet the following requires in order to be eligible for video gaming:
Average diesel sales of $50,000 per year
At least 20 truck parking spots
Property includes a convenience store
At least three acres of non-turnpike land These regulations do the obvious work of making sure a business is a legitimate truck stop and not a gas station parading as a truck stop just to get their video poker terminals.

1 New forms of gaming coming to Keystone State
2 In Wolf’s words…
3 Not everyone is thrilled about PA gambling changes
4 Time for legal online casinos in PA has come Even with support from the Pennsylvania House and the Senate, skeptics weren’t sure what Gov. Tom Wolf would do with H 271, the state’s sweeping gaming expansion. After much tweaking and amending, the Pennsylvania Senate approved the bill 31-19, legalizing online poker and gambling throughout the state. On Oct. 26, the House approved the bill by a vote of 109-72. The governor signed the bill into law shortly before the 10-day waiting period expired, on Oct. 30. Pennsylvania is the fourth state to legalize online poker and casino games, following New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada. The government expects additional revenues brought in by this bill are around $250 million. A key sticking point for Wolf was to make sure that this new revenue did not cannibalize Pennsylvania’s existing gaming industry. New forms of gaming coming to Keystone State The bill legalizes online slot machines, online table games, and online poker throughout Pennsylvania. It also regulates daily fantasy sports, sports betting (if federally legalized), online lottery, video gaming terminals at truck stops, and tablet gaming in airports. Companies like FanDuel and DraftKings were all smiles about the new bill, even considering the tax rate of 15 percent is on the higher end for companies operating daily fantasy sports. The initial license fee is $10,000. Truckers and truck stop operators seem to have mixed reviews regarding the legalized video gaming terminals. While they would welcome the additional revenue and the occasional break for entertainment, many caution against the dangers of gambling and the lack of space to accommodate any new gaming customers. It also authorizes up to ten satellite casinos, which are micro-footprint gambling centers set up in lower population zones. Penn National made it clear it is worried that these smaller gaming centers will take business away from its strategic geographic positions. Additionally, the bill changes Category 3 licenses to remove the membership fee for a higher one-time fee. In Wolf’s words… Wolf spoke in blanket terms regarding H 271. Wolf was quoted in CapitolWire: While never taking an outspoken stance on the issue, his words regarding Pennsylvania online gaming have always been consistent. His message seems to be that as long as it doesn’t disrupt Pennsylvania’s current gaming industry, online gaming makes perfect sense as a means of adding revenue to the budget. Not everyone is thrilled about PA gambling changes Still, opponents of the bill are skeptical of the money it can provide, as well as the claim that it won’t hurt existing business. Of course, online gaming expansion is just a small part of the larger picture. When the entire state budget is on the line, of course there are going to be some heated arguments. Maybe the biggest red flag includes the plan to issue $1.5 billion in bonds to cover the remaining shortfall. But that puts online gambling into perspective: It’s one of the best opportunities Pennsylvania has to balance its budget. Time for legal online casinos in PA has come Regardless of the political reasons, it is evident that online gaming makes sense for Pennsylvania. Proactively welcoming these online business models to Pennsylvania puts the state in a great position to increase revenue in the future, should the demand of the market dictate that. In fact, considering that Pennsylvania has the second-highest gambling revenue after Nevada, it would be foolish to deny online gaming companies an opportunity to operate in the state. Image credit: George Sheldon /

1 PA’s comprehensive gambling expansion
2 Which states will be next to legalize online gambling?
2.1 California
2.2 New York
2.3 Illinois
2.4 Michigan
2.5 Massachusetts
2.6 New Hampshire and West Virginia
3 PA stands alone When Pennsylvania officially became the fourth US state to legalize online gambling last month, it immediately spawned great interest in which state will be next. Several states are considering or have considered joining Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada in legalizing online gambling in one form or another in 2017, including:
New York
New Hampshire
West Virginia While it appears none of these seven states will get online gambling laws on the books this year, they would have to be considered the favorites to be the next do so. The question is: Will they go as far as Pennsylvania has? PA’s comprehensive gambling expansion Online gambling laws passed in PA as a part of a comprehensive gambling expansion package. The new law makes it legal to operate online slot machines, online table games and online poker throughout the state. Plus, the other gambling expansion initiatives attached include:
Daily fantasy sports
Online lottery sales
Video gaming terminals at truck stops
Tablet gaming in airports
Up to ten satellite casinos at under-serviced locations
Sports betting (should it be legalized federally) Since it first approved the operation of slot machines in 2004 and table games in 2010, PA has grown into the second largest casino revenue generating state in the country, next to Nevada. In fact, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board claims the state’s 10 stand-alone and racetrack casinos, and two smaller resort casinos, generate close to $1.4 billion in tax revenue from slot machines and table games annually. The new gambling expansion initiatives, including PA internet gambling, are aimed at growing that number exponentially. The big dollar figures PA gambling is already pumping out, and the new ones the state is hoping to create, may be extremely attractive to lawmakers from other states. However, it’s doubtful they’ll want to follow Pennsylvania’s lead in such a comprehensive manner. Which states will be next to legalize online gambling? California Up to now, California has only considered standalone legislation for online poker. Plus, it has been such a contentious issue with so many different stakeholders, including dozens of card room operators and tribal casinos, the state has failed to come to any kind of consensus as to how it will work. Adding further gambling expansion initiatives to the mix would only confuse things further. New York On the other side of the country, New York appears poised to get online gambling legislation on the books next year. Bills brought to the floor this year will get a head start in 2018 thanks to changes in legislative procedures in the state. However, these are online poker-only bills, and lawmakers in the state are committed to a step-by-step approach when it comes to gambling. So that would likely rule out any kind of comprehensive expansion. Plus, NY just expanded gambling in the state by issuing its first four commercial casino licenses. Further gambling expansion will likely have to wait until the state has seen the impact of all that. Illinois Illinois was looking at bills that would legalize online gambling, poker and daily fantasy sports. The session just ended without any movement on that legislation. Further gambling expansion beyond those products is doubtful. Plans to build a casino in the city of Chicago have been so contentious over the years, they stall everything. Michigan Michigan is also considering online casino and poker legislation. However, the state already runs online lottery sales and isn’t looking at any further gambling expansion besides online casinos. Massachusetts In the meantime, the construction of two commercial casinos is underway Massachusetts. As a result, it looks like that state will be waiting to see the impact of of these properties before going online. New Hampshire and West Virginia The bills put forward in New Hampshire and West Virginia are also online gambling-only. In fact, these bills aren’t likely to be attached to any kind of further gambling expansion. PA stands alone It’s highly likely that one of these seven states will become the fifth in the country to pass some form of online gambling legislation in the very near future. However, it’s just as likely that fifth state to pass online gambling legislation will not do anything like the comprehensive gambling expansion seen in PA. Unless some state comes out of nowhere to surprise everyone, that is.