Online poker in Pennsylvania became a reality on October 30 after Governor Tom Wolf signed the state’s gambling expansion bill.
With the Senate and House both voting to pass House Bill 271 on October 25 and 26 respectively, all that stood between online poker regulation and the masses was Wolf’s signature. Having previously said that tax revenue from the industry would help boost the state’s struggling economy, approval seemed to be a formality.
Wolf Sticks to His Pro Gaming Stance
Although a timeline for a final signature wasn’t forthcoming on October 26, Associate Press reporter Marc Levy announced that Wolf completed the process on October 30. Covering the latest news in Pennsylvania, Levy tweeted that Wolf has said the bill has been passed.
The news hasn’t yet appeared on the Governor’s official social media accounts, but the news is already making its way across the poker industry. With the online poker now legal, the race is on for the top operators to apply for a license.
Pennsylvania is currently home to more than 12.5 million residents, which is approximately three million more than the largest US iGaming state, New Jersey. Beyond its physical population, gross gaming revenue in the state topped $3.2 billion in 2016.
Despite being a significant amount less than Nevada ($11.1 billion), Pennsylvania’s takings are the second largest in the US. With gambling a part of the region’s social fabric, online poker and its peers should have a strong foundation to build on.
A Place Where Poker Can Prosper
In addition to poker, H 271 gives online operators the ability to offer casino, lottery gaming and daily fantasy sports betting. Beyond the advent of online gambling, the new laws will also increase betting provisions in the live arena.
A reduction of certain fees, the chance to offer more slot machines and the ability of casino operators to own more than one venue in the state are just some of the ways live betting has improved.
Under guidelines accompanying the bill, online gaming provisions will go live in 60 days. At this point, casinos currently licensed in Pennsylvania will have 120 days to apply for an online gaming permit.
Should there be any licensing slots left after 120 days, operators from outside the state will have the opportunity to apply. Although this means the first online poker sites won’t go live until the start of 2018, the market could grow rapidly and quickly become a major force among the four US iGaming states.