While some states are waffling on whether to legalize online gaming or sports gaming, Pennsylvania is in the midst of a gaming expansion that is expected to net the state hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. The state, moved by the need to bulk up its treasury, is looking for as many different sources of revenue as possible to shore up its finances.
Gaming in Pennsylvania
In the 1970s, Pennsylvania established a lottery to give homeowning senior citizens some relief from property taxes. However, that was the only form of gaming allowed for nearly 40 years. In the early 2000s, horse racing and casinos were legalized in the state. Pennsylvania has been on a roll gaming wise for the last 10 years, and that was fueled in large measure by The Great Recession. In the last decade, Pennsylvania is second only to Nevada in revenue generated from gaming. Currently, the state operates 30 different gaming venues statewide. These gaming entities include racinos (horse tracks with slots or video games included), casinos and casino-resorts, and horse racing venues. The state legalized gaming at truck stops and airports in 2017.
Online Gaming Petitions
In the fall of 2017, Pennsylvania approved a bill that legalized online gaming, making it the fourth state to legalize online gaming following Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware. The state legislature voted to allow online casino gaming and began accepting petitions from the casinos earlier this month. Casinos that apply within the first 30 days can get their licenses for $10 million. After the first 30-day window for petitions, casinos can apply for an additional 30 days, but it will cost them $12 million to get a license. If the casino wants to be able to operate all three types of online gaming– slots, table games, such as blackjack and baccarat, and poker — it must pay the full amount. If the casino only wants to operate one of the forms of online gaming, the license will cost $4 million.
So far, the state has received three petitions for a license: one from the Parx Casino in Philadelphia, one from Mount Airy Casino Resort in the northeastern part of the state, and one from the under-construction Live! Hotel and Casino near the stadium district in south Philadelphia. At this time, the Gaming Commission is only offering licenses to on-site casinos, but it hasn’t ruled out the opportunity to expand online gaming to racinos and racetracks in the future. If all the available licenses are not taken by in-state companies, the state may consider opening up the process to out-of-state casino companies.
In addition to the online gaming offering, the state is looking to expand even further into sports gaming, which it would make available at its casinos and racetracks. If sports gaming becomes available in Pennsylvania, the revenue generated by all the gaming interests in the state may be measured in the billions. Currently, the state is writing regulations that would allow sports betting to begin in the state before the beginning of the NFL season on Sept. 5.
The state is also going to offer lottery gaming online before the end of the summer and will begin taxing fantasy sports games as well, such as those offered on FanDuel and DraftKings. With all the expected revenue to begin pouring in, the state is hoping to rebuild its treasury, which has taken significant hits in recent years and is under criticism for its poor financial management of the state’s revenue. If Pennsylvania can capitalize on its new gaming initiatives, it can experience a wave of money flowing into its coffers.
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