Pennsylvania legislators are looking hard at the possibility of legal online gambling. Pennsylvania was rewarded handsomely when it allowed for slots casinos and other brick-and-mortar gambling options, as it significantly drew visitors from nearby New Jersey, and also benefited by its residents not having to drive out of state to enjoy some casino gambling. Buoyed by the millions of dollars of income they saw the physical casino experience deliver, state lawmakers in the Keystone State are working with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to hopefully legalize Internet gambling in some form in the near future.
New Jersey has just recently begun to offer online gambling to its residents and anyone located inside the state boundaries. Pennsylvania officials are concerned that this new Internet accessible gambling offering of the nearby state will cut into their piece of the land-based gambling pie, so they are exploring their own virtual options as well. State Senator Kim Ward, R-Hempfield, is a chairwoman of the Senate Community Economic and Recreational Development Committee, and recently stated that she and her fellow lawmakers in Pennsylvania are researching and observing the effects of legalized Internet gambling on other states before they push forward with their own legislation.
She stated that, “We want (gambling businesses) to survive here and to prosper, because it puts money in our coffers,” but said she is also concerned about providing a viable, safe and secure experience first and foremost. New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada have already adopted legislation which is friendly to online gambling, Nevada and New Jersey have officially launched Internet gambling websites, and Delaware will be joining them in providing real money online gambling for its residents very soon. Pennsylvania wants to join that group sooner rather than later.
Obviously there are concerns about identification and location verification, underage gambling possibilities and other issues, but the literally overnight delivery of additional tax and licensing revenue is very attractive to Pennsylvania, and other states as well. Senator Ward also pointed out that Pennsylvania needs to ensure that physical casinos and the Pennsylvania lottery do not suffer at the hands of legal online casinos. She said these will be significant factors discussed when gaming industry leaders from around the world meet for the World Regulatory Briefing USA, in Philadelphia, an important online gambling conference.
Kevin O’Toole is the executive director of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, and he mirrored Senator Ward’s comments about discussing with other states and jurisdictions exactly how they are offering their Internet gambling presence. O’Toole said that the Gaming Control Board hopes to learn more about how other states that offer legal online gambling and even international bodies approach Internet gambling, and what problems they have encountered. Currently there is no particular piece of legislation up for a vote in Pennsylvania which would legalize online gambling, but hosting such an important Internet gambling conference in Philadelphia shows that Pennsylvania is serious about considering some type of Internet gambling legislation in the future.