After years of truly underwhelming activity in the area of regulation, online poker bill in Pennsylvania has started to move forward with surprising speed. Just a couple of days ago, the HB 2150 was sent to the Appropriation Committee for the approval and already yesterday it was proceeded to the state Senate.
Online poker bill in Pennsylvania: stipulations
The HB 2150 deals with fantasy sports, online casinos, and, of course, online poker. The bill itself doesn’t go into too much detail with regards to what specific games would be allowed within these niches. That will be something for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) to determine if and when the bill finally becomes the law.
It can be assumed that Pennsylvania will stick to already tested models adopted by the three regulated states, especially New Jersey, as they have similar potential online poker operators lined up.
When it comes to taxation, the rate right now stands between 14% and 16% of the total gaming revenue, which would be a significant boost for the state’s economy. There’ve been several studies conducted to try and come up with a potential revenue on the yearly basis and the approximation stands somewhere in between $160 and $230 million.
What comes next: the Senate vote
There is no denying this is a great step forward for the online poker bill in Pennsylvania. However, there could be some more bumps along the road. Some questions concerning the regulatory process and taxation are still expected to be raised in the Senate and how these are handled can make a difference between passing the bill or voting it down.
If all goes well in the Senate, the final step will be to have the current Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf give his approval. The Governor has not been against the online poker regulation as long as it helps the state’s economy, so if the Senate is happy with everything, the chances are Wolf will be as well.
From online poker bill in Pennsylvania to actual poker
If the bill is passed and signed by the Governor, the question to which everyone wants to know an answer is: when we could expect the first hand of online poker to be dealt? Since Pennsylvania has the experience and knowledge of other regulated states to fall back to, the early estimates suggest 9 to 12 months waiting period, which means Pennsylvanians could start enjoying online poker by the mid-2017 at the latest.
Although many would like to see it happen before this year’s end, that is an unrealistic expectation, considering there will be a lot of ground to be covered after the law is passed, especially regarding licenses and setting up the necessary mechanisms.
That said, this sudden development was rather unexpected so if we all have to wait a few more months, so be it. Once the bill is passed, the state will probably look into joining one or two other regulated states to create another interstate compact or perhaps join the existing one between Nevada and Delaware. Of course, a lot of it will depend on how things continue to develop in the coming months.
Pennsylvania has never been closer to an online poker regulation and at this point it seems that the HB 2150 stands a great chance of being passed into the law.
That’s finally some really good news for online poker in the US.