The Pennsylvania Senate has passed a gambling expansion bill that could lead to the legalisation of online gaming in the US state.
Approved after a vote of 31-19, the bill has now moved to the state House, where it will be scrutinised further before progressing.
In addition to internet games, the bill, if passed, would authorise a new series of casinos across Pennsylvania, permit legal games at highway truck stops and potentially allow for the introduction of legalised sports betting in the future.
The bill had been in limbo for some time due to a disagreement regarding the subject of video gaming terminals (VGTs) and whether these machines should be permitted on a large-scale basis in the state.
According to Penn Live, the Senate moved from a no-VGT position to allowing the machines to be placed in truck stops, in an effort to meet the House halfway on the bill.
Senator Jay Costa, floor leader for the Democrats, said: “There’s no question that that was added to bring consensus between the Senate and the House.”
Should the bill go through, Pennsylvania would become only the fourth state in the US to legalise some form of online gambling.
Pennsylvania’s existing commercial casinos would be able to offer online gaming services to punters located within the state’s borders and that are of age.
A Pennsylvania online gaming licence would cover slots, poker or other table games, or a mixture of these types of gambling.
Internet-based games would be taxed at the same rate casinos currently pay for live play at their physical locations, with a portion of slots revenue earmarked for property taxes and other online games contributing to the general fund.
However, the bill has drawn criticism from some of the established casinos in the state, with Penn National Gaming, operator of the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, hitting out at plans for the new satellite casinos.
An official company document circulated to lawmakers states: “Robbing Peter to pay Paul may be a good idea when Peter is in Atlantic City and Paul is in Pennsylvania.
“But it certainly doesn’t make economic sense when Peter is an established, tax-generating business employing 1,000-plus Pennsylvania residents in the heart of the Commonwealth.”
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