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Pennsylvania bundles iGaming into fantasy sports legislation

Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives has passed an amendment that proposes to expand various forms of gambling across the state, including online gambling and fantasy sports contests.

The amendment to Representative George Dunbar’s HB2150 was introduced by Representative Rosita Youngblood just after a similar amendment failed, but which included the authorisation of video gaming terminals (VGTs) in 13,000 bars and taverns across the state – a proposal which has been opposed by licensed casino operators and the state lottery.

The House voted against that amendment Wednesday by a vote of 116-79, before Representative Youngblood introduced her amendment A08734.

This would regulate fantasy sports contests, with licensees paying a 5 per cent tax based on in-state participation, and iGaming, which would be taxed at 14 per cent for the state and 2 per cent for economic development projects. It does not mention VGTs, but allows casinos to seek approval to operate slot machines at an international airport in Pennsylvania.

“An effective regulatory, licensing and enforcement system for Interactive gaming in this Commonwealth would inhibit underage wagering and otherwise protect vulnerable individuals, ensure that the games offered through the Internet are fair and safe, stop sending much-needed jobs, tax and other revenue offshore to illegal operators, provide a significant source of taxable revenue, create jobs and economic development and address the concerns of law enforcement,” read the amendment, which passed by a vote of 115-80 in favour.

It would authorise and regulate internet poker and other online casino games, similar to language introduced by Representative John Payne’s HB649 bill earlier this year.

The Poker Players Alliance (PPA), the poker grassroots advocacy group, applauded the Pennsylvania House for the passage of a bill to license and regulate internet poker and other forms of online gaming in the state.

“It is about time - this legislation is long overdue. Pennsylvanians deserve robust consumer protections and today the Pennsylvania House delivered,” said John Pappas, executive director of the PPA. “Additionally, this legislation will create jobs and help the Commonwealth close its budget gap.

“This commonsense legislation is a win-win for Pennsylvania. The online poker community urges the Senate and Governor Wolf to act swiftly to approve this measure. Today’s vote is a great step forward not just for our members, but for all Pennsylvanians. It is time that this legislation be made into law so all of the state’s residents can benefit from online consumer protections.”

Bill 2150 now moves to the House Appropriations Committee for further approval, before it returns to the House for another vote. It then needs to get approval from the Pennsylvania State Senate, before being signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf.

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