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Pennsylvania Senate and House Butt Heads Over Internet Poker

Pennsylvania Senate and House Butt Heads Over Internet Poker 0001
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  • The Pennsylvania Senate and House are odds with one another over licensing Internet gaming.

There is a standoff between the Pennsylvania legislative branches in regards to licensing Internet gaming.

Two days after the Pennsylvania Senate addressed the urgent matter of local share tax from casino revenues with a temporary fix, the Pennsylvania House challenged its counterparts not to ignore online gaming and daily fantasy sports.

Last month the state's Supreme Court ruled that a portion of Pennsylvania's casino law that provides local cities and counties with a share of the taxes that casinos pay on their slot machine earnings was unconstitutional, violating the state constitution by imposing different tax rates on casinos depending on their size.

The legislature has 120 days to fix the issue or local municipalities could lose out on $140 million in revenue on which they depend. The Senate already had on its table the comprehensive gaming bill — HB 2150 — that the House passed in June. Among other things, that bill would allow casinos in the state to offer online poker.

The Senate had yet to act on that bill and the hope was that they would amend the bill to fix the local share tax and send it back to the House. Instead, the Senate amended HB 1887, intending to reform responsible gaming administration and enforcement policies, to add a fix to the local share tax that would only last until May.

The bill went back to the House for concurrence and the House wasn't having it. The representatives amended the bill making the fix permanent and adding in the full language from HB 2150 that would license and regulate online gaming and daily fantasy sports, while expanding the use of video gaming terminals.

The Senate is scheduled to come back following the election on Nov. 15 for a one-day session in which they will make a decision to pass the bill as amended by the House or balk at the inclusion. If the Senate doesn't pass the bill, the $100 million in state revenue from the gambling expansion included in the state budget will have to be made up for elsewhere.

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