The Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted 107-81 against a bill that would legalise online gaming, amongst permitted certain other gambling related products, and this has come as a major blow to the online gambling industry that was counting on the bill being passed. The issue was compounded by the fact that the online gambling proposal was linked to the proposal of permitting additional video gaming terminals (VGTs) in the state.
There are indications, however, that the PA lawmakers could revisit the internet gambling issue at a later date. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of clarity on the issue and as of now no date has been fixed for this to happen. This is indeed a major issue for the gambling industry in the state since it is seeking to expand by going on the internet. The land based gambling casinos currently pull in an estimated $3 billion every year. If the state can get to increase these revenues then its tax collections will naturally improve. Pennsylvania has a pension deficit amounting to approximately $50 billion, and increased taxes generated by online gambling can go a long way to fixing the problem.
The proposed internet gambling bill received a spirited defence from many PA lawmakers. It was sponsored by Rep. John Payne who emphasised the point that the taxes generated by online gambling would help the state’s economy. Rep. George Dunbar also pointed out that another purpose of legalising the industry was to regulate it better so that customers could get sufficient protection whenever they gambled on the internet. Payne added to this point saying that proper regulation would ensure that vulnerable people such as children and compulsive gamblers would get protection.
At present, many Americans visit online gambling sites run from offshore locations because there aren’t too many legal options available. As a matter of fact, they can easily visit these sites without even leaving the comfort of their homes and play a variety of games such as poker and slots. Games such as Tiki Island slot are a big draw at these casinos because of their sophisticated graphics and the lure of big prizes.
The online gambling black market serving United States customers is worth many billions of dollars. It is a well-established business and many sites even accept deposits via credit cards. The problem with gambling on these sites is that quite a few of them have links to crime gangs. In fact, many sites have fixed their games to give hardly any wins at all. Others exist only to steal customers’ financial and personal data.
Among the PA lawmakers, Payne has been working very hard to push his gambling bill through the houses of legislature. He has conducted 47 different hearings and meetings on this subject over the past eighteen months with the objective of providing lawmakers with enough information to enable them to make informed decisions. He remains unfazed by the reverse he has just experienced and is committed to doing more work to have the online gambling bill turned into law.