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While quite a few of the American states are trying to legalize online poker, Pennsylvania seems to be the closest one to doing so. Rumor has it that the internet gambling bill will pass soon, giving gamblers full access to a safety and regulated market.
Online gambling in Pennsylvania: soon to be legal
Up until now, only three American states took the plunge and said “yes” to legal online gambling: New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware (alongside the U.S. Virgin Islands). And even though all the others are giving serious thoughts to legitimize gambling activities over the internet, the results are scarcely noticeable.
With Pennsylvania, however, the situation is quite the opposite. Being an active player that fights for the online gambling legalization, this state has the biggest chances of joining the three above mentioned ones. The bill is supposed to be adopted in the end of 2015.
There is no law that defines very clearly the “online gambling” and “playing poker on the internet” situation. At best, these are not considered unlawful, because that would mean to make them legal in the first place: “As used in this section the term “unlawful” means not specifically authorized by law” (section 5512).
Today, The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is taking care of anything related to the state’s casino industry, keeping score of all the regulatory aspects.
Steps taken so far
Finally, after a long and complex process of legalizing online gambling in Pennsylvania, positive results are to be seen in due time. There are quite a few factors that indicate the change punters are expecting:
- in April 2015, lawmakers discussed the HB 649 poker proposal that’s part of a package of three bills meant to regulate online poker;
- the estimate gaming revenue is very encouraging;
- on America’s East Coast, poker is known to be a “national sport”, with numerous professional players joining the show.
The regulations of online gambling will bring loads of benefits not only for the state, but for the gamblers also:
- financial opportunities;
- control policies and transparency;
- safe online gambling.
Current legal gambling alternatives
Punters have only a few options to gamble legally in commercial casinos or racetracks, including any pari-mutuel wagering or charitable gambling. Of course, trying out your luck with the state lottery is also legal. But that’s about it.
Also, it is worth mentioning that you must be of 21 years of age to place a bet at a land-based casino, but if you want to wager on a horse at a racetrack or to play at the lottery, 18 years old is the minimum age requirement.
The first commercial casino opened in Pennsylvania in 2007, and is one out of 12 that bring in nearly $1.5 billion every year. Nowadays, there is no admission fee required to enter, and the biggest casinos welcome their consumers with 250 tables and 5 000 slot machines. Some of the games you will find there are: poker, Spanish 21, mini baccarat, blackjack, roulette and craps.
Harrah’s Philadelphia, The Meadows, Parx Racing, Penn National, Pocono Downs and Presque Isle Downs are the only art racing and gaming complexes in the state that are legal and offer free entrance.
Since 1971, the Pennsylvania Lottery provides draw games called The Daily Number, Big 4 and Cash 5. More than 60% of the proceeds are paid as prizes, and the rest are used to fund state programs for the elderly.
In Pennsylvania, it is legal to play bingo, 50-50, daily/weekly drawings, pull tab games as long as their are obeying the law regulations. Bear in mind that, at the moment, Night at the Races, sports betting and number games are regarded as illegal charitable games if they take place outside of authorized casinos or the Pennsylvania Lottery.
What’s to come?
Legalizing a market that’s been kept in the dark for so long will boost up not only the gamblers’ enthusiasm, but the state’s economic affairs too. The legal representatives of this bill think that, once validated, it will bring more than $130 million per annum, in tax revenues.
The chart below will show the potential gross of gaming revenue once the online poker will get regulated in Pennsylvania. Only in the first year, presumably in the beginning of 2016, the poker market will bring over $45 million for the state.
Besides Pennsylvania, other American states are experiencing improvements in the online gambling legalization area. California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New York and Washington have introduced a bill to get this procedure going.