State Senate OKs sports betting measures for volunteer groups, clubs
Volunteer groups and clubs in Pennsylvania might be able to run sports pools legally in time for the Super Bowl.
Sports betting is illegal in Pennsylvania, but two proposed pieces of legislation — House Bills 290 and 1098 — related to small games of chance passed in the state Senate on Wednesday and went to the House.
HB 290 would amend the Small Games of Chance Act by allowing volunteer groups and clubs that have small games of chance licenses — which are issued by county treasurers — to organize sports betting pools, such as those for the Super Bowl and NCAA basketball March Madness.
“These pools are available in nearly every social club you go to,” said state Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Northampton, in a prepared statement. “Today's vote finally signals a willingness to legitimize an activity that many people enjoy and rightly assume is legal.”
In 2011, Boscola introduced a bill to legalize small sports pools. Most of the provisions of her bill, Senate Bill 483, were amended into HB 290, her office said.
The organizations that run the pools, if HB 290 is approved, must award all proceeds to contestants so the pools can't be used as direct fundraisers.
“It's an amenity. It's a service they can offer,” said Stephen DeFrank, chief of staff for Boscola.
Entry fees would be limited to no more than $20 and no more than 100 participants could enter a pool.
The bill would allow the groups to offer night-at-the-races games and raffle auctions.
It's not uncommon for the State Police's Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement to cite clubs and taverns for operating sports pools, said Capt. Mark Crossan, who said violators brought before administrative judges can be fined between $50 and $1,000 and have their liquor licenses suspended.
Social groups and clubs, such as Elks lodges, in Pennsylvania support HB 290 but take issue with HB 1098, whose provisions would include allowing businesses with restaurant licenses to conduct tavern gaming, such as pull-tab games, daily drawings and raffles, but not sports pools, said Tom Helsel Jr., secretary for the Pennsylvania Association of Nationally Chartered Organizations and the state government relations chairman for the Elks.
If HB 1098 were to pass, tavern gaming would pull customers from fraternal organizations' games of chance, said Howard Brown, exalted ruler for Elks Lodge 339 on the North Side.
“It's going to put some (of us) out of business,” he said.
Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Plum Borough officials placed on paid administrative leave
- McKees Rocks couple charged with child endangerment in death of 3-month-old
- Pittsburgh Marathon runner remains in critical condition
- Uptown neighborhood in Pittsburgh on verge of breakthrough
- Union sues Pittsburgh over temporary worker contributions
- Pittsburgh officials to hear opinions, answer questions about bus rapid transit project
- Newsmaker: Nancy Harhai
- Rivals make Pittsburgh controller race about competence
- Runner's heart attack, variety of ailments make busy day for marathon medics
- Western Pennsylvania mobilizes to aid Nepal in earthquake recovery
- Kennywood Park opening day ends early because of disruptive crowd