PA Senate: Passes Sports Betting And DFS Bill, Awaits House Approval

PA Senate: Passes Sports Betting And DFS Bill, Awaits House Approval

Late Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Senate passed a gaming expansion package that included the regulation of sports betting and daily fantasy sports.

This comes only a week after Senator Jake Corman told the press that a gaming bill would be seeing a vote as a piece of a larger puzzle of revenue-creating bills.

“If all the stars align we’ll be prepared to do all that and be done by Wednesday,” stated Sen. Corman.

Corman’s timeline was spot on, though the bill will still have to return to the House for approval.

Inside The PA Gaming Package

The bill – PA H 271 – is all-encompassing, covering online gambling, daily fantasy sports, and sports betting. The bill is close to 500 pages in length, with more than 15 pages dedicated to sports betting alone.

This is one of the most interesting provisions covered in the gaming package, as full-scale sports betting is only legal in Nevada as the law currently stands. Even if PA H 271 is passed by the House, the federal ban on sports betting would have to be lifted before the provision could go into effect.

The bill would permit licensed casinos to offer sports betting in person, online, or via a mobile platform. Operators would be charged a $10 million licensing fee upfront, with a tax rate of 34% on gross gaming revenue.

The daily fantasy sports portion of the bill would make Pennsylvania the 17th state to regulate DFS if enacted. PA H 271 grants regulatory authority over DFS operators to the PA Gaming Control Board. Operators will pay $50,000 for a five-year license, with gross revenue taxed at 15%. The standard consumer protections, such as separation of operating funds from player funds, are also included in the bill.

Aside from sports betting and DFS, the gaming package also includes the following developments:

  • Permits tablet gaming in eligible airports.
  • Allows up to 10 satellite casinos.
  • Authorizes an online lottery.
  • Legalizes online gambling, including slots, poker, and table games.

The Need For Gaming In PA

PA HB 271 is one of the most comprehensive gaming bills that Pennsylvania has seen. That is because the goal is for each piece of the gaming package to play its part in fixing the ongoing issues with the state’s budget.

Though the most recent House plan estimates that gaming will bring in $265 mil in revenue, there is still a gaping $2 bil hole in the state budget that needs to be funded. Corman stressed how the gaming package is a smaller part of an overarching plan.

“The recurring number was particularly high in the second year in [the House’s] assumptions. Whether that can be achieved or not, I don’t know. In the scale of a $33 billion revenue package that funds our state budget, you’re only talking about a couple hundred million here, so it’s a fraction of what we need to achieve.”

What Happens Next With PA Gaming?

Early Wednesday, the bill was voted 17-1 out of the Senate Rules Committee. Later that night, PA H 271 was voted 31-19 by the full Senate and passed to the House Rules Committee.

With the bill on the House floor, we await a vote that may happen on Thursday. While USA online sportsbooks could speculate that the House would vote favorably, negotiations have fallen through in the past. If approved, the bill would only need to be signed by Governor Tom Wolf in order to become law.