PA lawmakers race against the clock to finalize details on their $32B budget bill, which would include possibly online gambling legalization.
In what has been an ongoing saga since the middle of July, it looks like legislators in Pennsylvania are still trying to finalize the terms on a huge $32 billion state budget that has already been passed into state law. The budget revolves around VGT’s (video gaming terminals), increasing taxes and the possibility of legalizing online gaming.
Governor Tom Wolf has been working night and day to come to some type of compromise on the matter, so that a final vote can be put into place before the state starts to bleed cash. This will especially ring true come October 26th, when the state has a large amount of bills to pay and a huge payment owed to all the school districts.
Why is a state budget so important to iGaming?
The reason why this particular news is such a big deal in the iGaming world is that much of money that would contribute to the budget revolves around the legalization of online and fantasy sports gambling. There is a strong possibility that new revenues could easily exceed hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming years.
For months, Pennsylvania has been involved in political trench warfare regarding the nuances of the spending plan they passed earlier this summer. Despite the budget now becoming law, both the House and the Senate have stalled on finding the best ways to properly pay for it.
Will the politicians come to a compromise in time?
Politicians in the House and Senate have had differing views on the aforementioned topics, which was evidenced by the senators voicing their strong opposition to the planned VGT resolution and how to properly regulate and tax online gambling.
Under any gambling compromise, lawmakers have lobbied for permitting VGT’s – also known to many people as electronic slot machines – in truck stops that meet strict criteria that would be tied to overall fuel sales. However, Republican Scott Petri feels that most truck stops could abuse this loophole by lowering prices in order to be declared a truck stop and gain added tax breaks as a result.
The compromise would also call for the establishment of “mini casinos” in certain regions of Pennsylvania. Once again, though, the worry with mini casinos and the VGT controversy is that existing casinos could possibly sue on the grounds that each of those establishments might get varying tax rates.
In regards to online gambling, legislators will most likely review the terms of any possible legalization of iGaming websites and fantasy sports very closely. Any type of resolution that can be brought to the table would almost have to accommodate for online gaming here, as estimates show that the inclusion of internet gambling and fantasy sports could bring in $100 to $200 million in new revenue alone!
Once again, we will report more on this story as members of the House and Senate continue their work to get this spending bill resolved and pushed forward. The state’s bank accounts will have no choice but to come to some sort of an agreement – and soon.