Online gambling on the radar of Pennsylvania officials
Pennsylvania needs to look at the effects of legalized online gambling in other states before it considers offering it here, a state senator said.
“We want (gambling businesses) to survive here and to prosper, because it puts money in our coffers,” said state Sen. Kim Ward, R-Hempfield, chairwoman of the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee.
Three states have legalized online gambling, and several others are considering it to generate more tax revenue.
Officials said concerns about legalizing online games include the potential loss of revenue among casinos and the Pennsylvania Lottery — the latter funds programs for senior citizens — and the possibility of underage gambling.
Those issues will be on the table on Tuesday and Wednesday, when gaming industry leaders from around the world and state gambling regulators attend an online gaming conference, the World Regulatory Briefing USA, in Philadelphia.
“We're basically hoping to learn more about how other states, jurisdictions and even some international jurisdictions, how they would approach Internet gambling ... or those jurisdictions that do have legislation that has passed,” said Kevin O'Toole, executive director of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
Online gambling is not a priority, nor is it under consideration in Pennsylvania, said state Rep. Mauree Gingrich, R-Lebanon County, chairwoman of the House Committee on Gaming Oversight.
“We do not have any estimates on potential additional revenues resulting from Internet gaming. Of course, before that could be accomplished, a tax rate, license fees, the regulatory structure would all have to be a part of the equation,” Gingrich said.
In April, state Rep. Tina Davis, D-Bucks County, introduced a bill that would have put the Gaming Control Board in charge of regulating online gaming in the state, including determining which games could be offered. The bill stalled in the House committee.
In December 2011, the Department of Justice removed the Wire Act as a tool to prosecute online gambling providers and allowed states to offer games of chance on the Internet to companies that operate within their respective borders, according to the Washington-based American Gaming Association, which represents the commercial casino industry.
Nevada legalized intrastate online gambling in February, but it allows only online poker. Delaware legalized intrastate online gambling in June 2012. New Jersey approved it in February, and games will start on Nov. 26.
New Jersey will be watched closely “because of the fact that they will be offering all games and because of the size of the population in New Jersey,” said Holly Wetzel, spokeswoman for the American Gaming Association.
Ward said she is considering sponsoring a study to examine gambling in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania casinos have lost revenue to competition in nearby states, Ward said, citing Ohio casinos that opened in 2012. Table game revenue at Presque Isle Downs and Casino in Erie County declined 31 percent to $15 million between fiscal years 2011-12 and 2012-13, and much of that dip is attributed to the opening of the Horseshoe Cleveland casino, officials said.
Most the American Gaming Association's members believe online gaming would complement casinos, Wetzel said.
“There will never be a substitute for the social aspect of the bricks-and-mortar gaming experience,” she said.
Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Foreign influx in Allegheny County at ‘tipping point’
- Emails show Allegheny County Council staff investigated potential snooping
- Squirrel Hill Tunnel workers cope with speeders, exhaust fumes
- Sewickley man dies in Route 28 motorcycle accident
- Pennsylvania Resources Council puts hazardous materials in their place
- West Allegheny School District scraps landfill tax over legal questions
- Fire at Indiana County lumber yard appears accidental; loss set at $350K
- Generations of Steelers fans flock to practice on Unity campus
- Portion of Saw Mill Run closed after wreck
- Report blames pilot for 2011 Hawaii crash that killed Pittsburgh couple
- Banksville Road to reopen to traffic