Pennsylvania Senator Expected to Introduce Online Poker Bill

PA sealTomorrow the Pennsylvania Senate will host an online gambling hearing, and as a precursor to the hearing State Senator Edwin Erickson has announced his plans to introduce an online gambling bill that would legalize online poker in the state, which was first reported by onlinepokerreport.com.

Erickson’s bill calls for the following:

  • “Bad Actor” clause set at December 31, 2006
  • $5 million licensing fee (the bill does state how many years a license remains active before renewal) and a 14% tax rate
  • The ability to enter into interstate compacts

OnlinePokerReport.com has obtained a draft of the proposed legislation which you can read here.

Up to this point Pennsylvania has been considering comprehensive online gambling expansion, both casino and poker games, so Erickson’s bill is a departure from the norm in that respect. However, online poker-only bills seem to be the legislation du jour, with poker-only legislation introduced in both California and New York this year, as well as a rumored bill at the federal level that would also legalize online poker.

Whether any of these bills should be interpreted as part of a larger concerted effort at different levels of government, or if there introductions are merely coincidental and a part of the current iGaming zeitgeist is unclear at this point.

Implications for tomorrow’s hearing

Tuesday’s hearing will take place in front of the Senate Committee on Community, Economic and Recreational Development, and according to a copy of the agenda obtained by OnlinePokerReport.com:

“The purpose of this hearing is to consider the current state and potential for growth with regard to the Pennsylvania casino gaming industry in an increasing competitive atmosphere… including the potential impact of new revenue sources (i.e., iGaming/ online gaming) … avoiding the status quo to prevent stagnation and decline in the industry along with the revenues and jobs it generates. The goal of the CERD committee is to determine the best practices and course of action, versus pushing any specific agenda, to ensure the economic viability of the PA gaming industry for the foreseeable future.”

Testifying before the committee will be a number of Pennsylvania’s gaming industry power players like Parx Casino Chairman Bob Green and Caesars Senior Vice President of Corporate Development, Michael Cohen, as well as the usual suspects from iGaming hearings including Las Vegas Sands rep Andy Abboud, the Council on Problem Gambling, and written testimony by the Poker players Alliance.

Whether Erickson’s proposed bill will be brought up, or if the distinction between poker-only and more comprehensive expansion will be broached in the hearing is unclear.

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