PA House Passes HB 271, Effectively Regulating Online Poker

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Online poker players in Pennsylvania got some great news on Thursday.

Well Pennsylvania online poker players, all you need now is an autograph from Governor Tom Wolf and you’ll be well on your way to playing regulated online poker soon.

By a vote of 109-72, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed House Bill 271, effectively regulating online poker, casino games and daily fantasy sports in the Keystone State. The bill now heads to the Governor’s office for a signature to make it law. All expectations are that Wolf will not veto the bill.

The news of a fourth US state regulating online gaming was music to the ears of the Poker Players Alliance.

“Pennsylvania made the right decision today,” said John Pappas, executive director of PPA. “This is a major victory for consumers who, for years, have asked the state to step up and provide meaningful protections. The iGaming law will also help create new growth opportunities for the Commonwealth’s bricks and mortar casinos while providing needed revenue for the state budget.”

There is no timeline for when Pennsylvanians can begin legally check-raising from the comfort of their own home, but many believe mid-2018 to be a reasonable expectation.

Thursday’s House vote came after the bill was amended and passed by the Pennsylvania Senate on Wednesday night.

The bill created three separate categories for online gaming licenses; online poker and other player-to-player games, table games, and slot machines. Land-based operators already licensed in Pennsylvania get a 120-day head start on “qualified entities” that may come from out-of-state.

Pennsylvania casinos can apply for an interactive gaming license that covers all three categories within the first 90 days at a cost of $10 million. After that time period, the licenses will cost $4 million each. PokerStars, which currently only operates in New Jersey in the United States, was happy to see another state come on board.

“We applaud the Pennsylvania Legislature for taking decisive action to legalize online gaming,” said Eric Hollreiser, VP of Corporate Communications for PokerStars. “This is commonsense legislation that will protect consumers, help close Pennsylvania’s budget gap, and make the state more competitive within the regional gaming industry. The Stars Group looks forward to working with Pennsylvania and its gaming regulators and competing in the future marketplace.”

The bill also includes language that should allow Pennsylvania to share player pools with other jurisdictions that offer regulated online gaming. Many industry experts expect Pennsylvania to join the recently-signed agreement between New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware.

The bill sets the legal age for PA online casino or poker play at 21 while daily fantasy sports participants need only be 18.

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