A second Pennsylvania online gambling bill has been introduced to the House, this time by State Representative Nick Miccarelli, and its poker only.
Miccarelli presented a poker-only bill last year (HB 2297), and while the text of the new bill (HB 695) has yet to be published, it’s understood to be similar or identical.
That means, unlike its counterpart introduced last week by State Representative John D. Payne, it’s big on bad actor language and leaves no room for PokerStars to enter a regulated market.
Last year’s bill asserted that the state should not grant licenses to companies, or companies that use the assets of those companies, that ignored federal and state law after the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.
This would, it continued, “reward unlawful gaming activity, permit manifestly unsuitable persons to profit from their unlawful gaming activity and create unfair competition with licensees that respected Federal and State law.”
The bill also proposed that, like New Jersey, the state’s existing licensees should retain operational and supervisory control over the new vendors. However, unlike, New Jersey, it would block vendors from operating under their own brands.
“Vendors’ ability to provide the interactive gaming platform must depend solely on, and be tied to, the status of the licensed entity for which they are providing their services,” it said.
“To ensure that actual control and supervision remains with the licensed entity, the licensed entity’s publicly accessible Internet website or similar public portal must be marketed and made available to the public under the licensed entity’s own name and brand and not the brands of third parties.”
Provided that the tax rates remain the same as last year, Miccarelli’s bill will propose a 14 percent tax levy on gross gaming revenue, the same as Payne’s bill and one percent lower than the rate paid by operators in New Jersey. The licensing fee will be $5 million.
Meanwhile, the Payne bill has been causing a certain amount of confusion about what it actually is, which has now thankfully been cleared up. Media first reported last week that the bill would be an online poker and online casino bill, due to the representative’s frequent use of the phrase “Internet gaming” in his announcements.
However, when the full text was published it suddenly appeared to be a poker-only bill, due to the definition of an “authorized game” as “any interactive poker game approved by the board under this chapter.”
This, it seems, was a typo, and the language has now been revised, which means that Payne’s bill is an online poker and online casino bill again!
Miccarelli, however, is leaving now room for doubt. “This bill will only authorize Internet Poker,” he declared emphatically. “Poker is unlike banking games in many respects that make it best for the introduction of interactive gaming. Poker operators are not participants in the games and are indifferent as to the outcome.”