With 2015 nearly gone, a question that remains unanswered in the current online poker landscape is whether the state of Pennsylvania will move forward with the idea of legal and regulated online poker next year.
“Pennsylvania poker players we are so close, and with your help we will soon have regulated Internet poker in your state” is the message which is posted on the the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) website.
According to the PPA’s Twitter account, an online gaming bill that would allow for state-regulated online poker was introduced on the House floor, Tuesday this week, less than a week after being cleared by a standing committee.
The measure easily passed the House Gaming Oversight Committee by a margin of 18-8, meaning that moving forward lawmakers will vote on the issue of regulated online poker and casino gaming in Pennsylvania sooner rather than later. The online gaming bill now just needs to become law.
Will regulated online poker come to Pennsylvania in 2016?
In a recent interview we had about the current status of US poker legislation with Mr. Lathram from USAfriendly PokerSites he told us that it “could take at least a year before online gambling becomes a reality in PA due to potential legislative delays, license processing and software testing”.
The Pennsylvania economy will be vastly better off when online gaming is properly regulated and taxed. In addition to the taxes collected on gaming revenue, the state would also generate a significant amount of income from casino licensing fees. Regulated online poker would also create many more jobs.
During peak times of the day the traffic at regulated New Jersey online poker sites can climb above 2,000 players. In October alone, New Jersey operators generated $12.9 million in total online gaming revenue, which was a considerable increase from last month.
The state of Pennsylvania could certainly use some more revenue coming in. With a population of 12.79 million, Pennsylvania would be the largest US state to have regulated online poker, so $13 million per month would be on the low end of revenue targets the state would have for internet gaming.
And it’s not like there wouldn’t already be a demand for real-money online poker games. Many Pennsylvanians would be already playing online poker at any one of the offshore poker sites. So, essentially Pennsylvanians are sending revenue out of this state, and even in some cases, out of the country.
Will PokerStars be allowed to operate in the Pennsylvania market? That is the million dollar question. The bill in its current form doesn’t contain a “bad actor clause”, which is good news for PokerStars, but obviously changes might still be made to the bill.
I think in 2016 you are going to see a lot more i-gaming bills introduced to allow online poker in states yet to approve a regulatory framework.