There might be some progress in Pennsylvania’s long-standing dispute regarding the question of legalising daily fantasy sports (DFS) and online casinos. There are many takers for different types of online gambling but there is also great resistance to it from established land based operators as well as groups that believe that online gambling leads to addiction etc. However, the governor’s budget address to the state’s General Assembly revealed interesting information that could help resolve this argument.
Much to most people’s surprise, the Governor Tom Wolf recent address included a budget amendment proposal that, among other things, indicated $250 million for what was termed a gaming expansion. The state’s budget for the 12 months starting July 2017 has been pegged at $81 billion, with $32.3 billion of it expected to be generated by state taxes. Pennsylvania has a budget deficit at present, which amounts to around $3 billion.
Wolf expects the gaming expansion proposal to generate $100 million more than what it contributed in the previous fiscal year. Over and above that will be revenues of $150 million brought in as a result of expanding the state’s existing gaming activities.
This budget proposal will have to be discussed in detail by the General Assembly but it is unlikely that the gambling expansion will be dismissed outright. After all, lawmakers have to take the $3 billion deficit into account and take steps to bring down the shortfall by the time the next fiscal year draws to a close.
Online Gambling Crucial to Industry Expansion
There isn’t any law as yet that can help contribute to the $100 million increased revenues from gambling that the state has budgeted for during the current financial year. As a matter of fact, there isn’t even any specific information about how the gambling industry in Pennsylvania can be expected to account an increase in the next financial year. However, a number of measures are currently being discussed with a sense of urgency. One is to put land-based casinos on a higher tax rate. The other is to widen the gambling base by offering slot games at a number of new venues.
If this happens, then people can play slots at airports, tracks, and also betting parlours. There is also a proposal to install video lottery terminals at different privately owned establishments across the state.
The state has no option but to focus on online gambling in order to generate the $100 million required to bridge its budget deficit. After all, online gambling is the only activity that can generate such a large amount of money in the shortest possible time. Therefore, while the government hasn’t specifically said that it will legalize online gambling in the near future, this is clearly in the cards.
Resolution to Long-Standing Dispute?
As mentioned earlier, the state has long been debating the legalisation of online gambling. In fact, the House even passed two separate bills during the previous year to legalise gambling. However, both of these bills were stopped in the Senate. Given that there is immense pressure on the budget for this year and the next, it is very likely that the opponents of online gambling will finally have to give in and legalise it. Customers from Pennsylvania will then be able to play their favourite Jack and the Beanstalk slots and a whole lot of other games on reliable and well-regulated gaming sites without taking the risk of playing at unregulated sites.
Many reliable opinion state that the gambling industry works best for all parties concerned when it is regulated well. Perhaps it’s about time that Pennsylvania lawmakers realised it as well.