Pennsylvania Rep Tina Davis to Present Online Gambling Bill

Posted By: Date: 02/15/2013 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

Pennsylvania State Representative Tina Davis revealed in an interview with Pittsburgh news authority, TribLive, that she has been working on a bill to legalize online gambling on an intrastate level since last year. Davis expects to present the bill in about a week, but openly admits that getting the bill passed a Republican dominated House is not going to be easy.

Rep. Davis listed a number of reasons why her proposal should be thoughtfully regarded and passed on to the governor’s desk for approval, namely her belief ““ which many industry experts are inclined to agree with ““ that online gaming will eventually be legalized on a federal level.  If that happens, Pennsylvania will be forced to make a decision. In order to remain competitive, the only proper solution would be to privatize its state lottery and go ahead with the legalization of online gambling. To complete one of those steps now would have them ahead of the game.

Davis quickly pointed out that Pennsylvania is not just another state where casino gambling is permitted. The Keystone State has actually become the second most gambling state in all of the United States; second to Nevada, of course. That title was held stalwartly by New Jersey for a long time, but since neighboring states like Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania began furnishing more numerous and elaborate casino establishments, the rate of tourism in Atlantic City has declined dramatically.

As a member of the country’s most avid gambling states, Rep. Davis deems it only fit that Pennsylvania join Nevada and Delaware, the only states to have officially legalized gambling over the internet. Delaware chose to permit online poker and casino gambling, while Nevada is only allowing online poker gaming for the time being. New Jersey is on the brink of legalizing online poker and casino gambling as well.

Davis’ bill would pave the way for legalization of online poker and blackjack, including all variations of those games currently offered in Pennsylvania’s land-based casinos. Her intention was to “strike a balance”? between online and live casino gaming.  “We tried to determine what the most popular types of online games there were out there, but we also didn’t want to discourage folks from going to the land casinos,”? said Davis.

Much like the online gambling bill New Jersey has been working for the past two years, Davis’ bill would only permit land-based operations who already maintain a license to supply slots and table games within the state to apply for an intrastate online gaming license. The online versions of the games must be supplied via the website of the land-based casino from which they are promoted.

Licensing would be overseen by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. The state GCB would be responsible for reviewing and approving all systems and software that correspond to the online games, just as they do now with the gaming equipment at land-based establishments.

An online gambling license would cost $16.5 million, the same price brick and mortar casinos pay for licensing in PA. The tax rates, however, would not be equal. Land-based casinos are presently taxed 55% on slot machine revenue, and only 14% on table games. Online gambling would be taxed at a steady 45%, which Davis relayed as a negotiable factor in her legislation.

As for players, one of the most intriguing factors in Davis’ bill is a stipulation that would require participants to register their account in person at the brick and mortar establishment for which they wish to play online. By walking in, presenting ID and signing up for an online account at a live desk, Davis believes the state can avoid one major, common pitfall with online wagering in general ““ underage gambling. It would also prevent problem gamblers who placed themselves on the self-exclusion list from having access to gambling over the internet.

Furthermore, players would be required to link an active bank account to their gaming account, and they would be forbidden, as agreed upon in writing, from letting anyone else use their online gaming account. If another adult household member wishes to gamble online, they will have to open their own account at a licensed gaming facility.

Rep. Tina Davis made it clear that her efforts are merely the first step in the direction of a legal online gambling framework in the Keystone State. Her desire is to open the debate process so that legalization can move forward in a timely fashion. “There is an urgency to get this done,”? said Davis, referring to the expansion of gambling markets in nearby states like Maryland, Ney York and Ohio, “but I am not naïveto believe that it will happen overnight.”?

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