Pennsylvania is on the verge of becoming the fourth US state to regulate online poker after a bill passed through the Senate and House.
House Bill 271 was first referred to the Pennsylvania’s Gaming Oversight Committee on January 31, 2017. Aiming at amending Titles 3 (Agriculture) and 4 (Amusements) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, the bill seeks to pave the way for regulated online casino gaming, lotteries and poker.
Smooth Sailing for H 271
After passing through the regulatory system and undergoing seven revisions, the bill cleared the Senate on October 25 before it received the same treatment in the House on October 26. With positive vote of 109 to 72, H 271 has overcome all but one hurdle.
Following positive debates, revisions and votes, the only thing that would prevent Pennsylvania from becoming a regulated online gaming state is an objection by Governor Tom Wolf.
A shock rejection isn’t expected by those in the industry, which means a simple signature will see another US state go live with iGaming.
Although the legalization of the industry is the first step in a process that will still take some time to fully implement, it could prove to be significant for both players and operators. In terms of size, Pennsylvania would be the most populated iGaming state in the US with 12.7 million residents (New Jersey is currently top with 8.9 million).
Pennsylvania a Potential Powerhouse
In addition to its population, Pennsylvania is second only to Nevada in terms of gross gaming revenue. Since casinos were regulated in the state back in 2006, annual earnings have continually increased.
According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, combined slots and table gross gaming revenue hit $3.2 billion in 2016. Although that figure was slightly down on 2015’s takings, it’s still enough to make it the second biggest player in the US casino industry.
From this, some could make the argument that live casino revenue doesn’t necessarily translate into online earnings. Nevada banked $11.1 billion in 2016, but the state’s active poker sites average just 140 active players per week.
However, where Pennsylvania will differ from Nevada is that it won’t simply offer online poker. Under the terms of H 271, operators will be able to apply for a license to offer casino, poker, lottery and daily sports online.
Additionally, if sports betting is legalized at a federal level, the Pennsylvania bill has provisions to make this legal as well. Finally, with New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada recently agreeing a liquidity sharing deal, it may be possible for Pennsylvania’s poker operators to join this new network.
Overall, while there are a few more loose ends to tie up, it looks as though another strong player could be about to enter the US online poker market.