Online Poker, Fantasy Sports Now Tied Together in Pennsylvania

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An amendment regulating internet gambling introduced by Rosita Youngblood was tacked onto a bill regulating fantasy sports in Pennsylvania

Online poker went 2-for-2 on Wednesday. After the California Assembly Appropriations Committee approved a bill regulating online poker out West, attention turned to the other end of the US, where the PennsylvaniaHouse approved an amendment to a bill regulating daily fantasy sports. The significance: that amendment regulates online gaming, including poker.

“It’s terrific news. We look forward to the full bill passing the House,” Poker Players Alliance Vice President Rich Muny said. “We look forward to positive Senate action as well. The bill already has momentum in the House. Next, it’ll go to the Senate. Everyone in Pennsylvania should contact their lawmakers so we can get this done.”

House member Rosita Youngblood introduced the amendment, A08734, after a 45-minute recess around 6:30pm ET on Wednesday night. The rider was approved by a 115-80 vote and is an amendment to House Bill 2150, which would regulate fantasy sports in Pennsylvania.

Now, at least in the Keystone State, the fates of online poker and fantasy sports are tied together.

“In some states, DFS and poker will be tied,” Muny said. “In other states, poker will be tied to other forms of gaming. Every state will be its own thing. We all have to understand the politics of each state.”

Earlier in the day, an amendment introduced by George Dunbar, A08621, to the same House Bill failed by a 116-79 vote. There was no debate about Youngblood’s amendment, which essentially took Dunbar’s amendment and eliminated the expansion of video game terminals, or VGTs, a hot-stove issue.

In fact, discussion of Dunbar’s bill was nearly exclusively about VGTs, namely how they might improve the quality of life in areas where they’re located, how many should be allowed, and where they should be placed. There was also talk about how much of a negative impact VGTs would have on a fairly predictable source of revenue in casinos and lottery.

It also seemed that a vote on the Dunbar amendment was going to be rather uninformed no matter what the outcome, as House memberSteve Samuelson said the 183-page amendment was not available until 10:00 this morning, leaving House members with little time to review. “Consequently, I have 183 questions,” Samuelson said.

Samuelson added that there’s already internet gambling going on in Pennsylvania. “You have to be concerned about who is going to be doing internet gambling,” he said. He also expressed concern over internet gambling safeguards, prohibition on gifts, the age of people working for iGaming sites, and the effects on the lottery and its beneficiaries.

There seemed to be a lack of opposition to regulating fantasy sports, which could bode well for the long-term outlook for internet gambling and online poker in Pennsylvania.

Take House member William Kortz, who said House Bill 2150 “regulates the fantasy sports industry, which is what we need to do… It’s time to make this happen… I don’t want to raise broad-base taxes. This would help us raise some much-needed revenue.”

Specifically, Dunbar explained that the House Bill will raise $1 million to $5 million per year from fantasy sports, while other components of it (not VGTs) would raise $250 million annually. Internet gaming and internet poker would be limited to licensed casinos in Pennsylvania.

“I’m pro-gaming,” Dunbar said. “For several sessions, I’ve pushed for legislation for internet gaming and internet poker. I’ve always viewed the need for this legislation as consumer protection. Internet gaming is going on right now. It’s unregulated and un-taxed… We also get the cherry on top in additional revenues.”

“This is much like prohibition,” he added. “If we vote this legislation down, it won’t stop illegal gambling. This is just going to go offshore. It already is offshore.” He emphasized that it’s a bill that’s really about consumer protection, echoing other champions of the industry over the years.

Now, the online poker community will await a vote on House Bill 2150. No timeline is available.

2 COMMENTS

    • Please please please… We’ve been teased so many times, let it happen!!

      It seems like this has a fighting chance, especially with online poker now tied to fantasy sports. Seven states have expressly legalized fantasy sports already.