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Online Poker Optimism Appears Dead in Pennsylvania

  • It looks like 2017 will be another fruitless year in the wait for regulated online poker in PA.

After optimistic buzz that Pennsylvania could finally join Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey in legalizing and regulating online poker, those hopes appear to be dead when budget talks fell through on Wednesday, according to Online Poker Report.

Pennsylvania has been considered the most likely state to pass online gaming legislation for some time now after it passed a budget in 2016 that included $100 million in online gaming revenue. That never got all the way through the legislature due in part to a lingering issue with video gaming terminals.

However, given that Pennsylvania was still facing a budget deficit, and online gaming could account for over $350 million in revenue by 2022, it was inevitable that the issue would come up again for 2017.

That's exactly what happened, and the ante was upped further by a budget that called for $250 million from gambling expansion, including online gaming and limited use of the controversial VGTs, OPR reported last week.

Optimism Squashed

Unfortunately for the millions of poker fans hoping for another domino to finally fall in the long slog toward regulated online poker in the U.S., it sounds like the budget talks devolved into a mess on Wednesday. Fed up, Gov. Tom Wolf finally said he's taking money out of the state's liquor profits to cover the budget for now.

Those rooting for online poker to continue to progress have hoped that passage in Pennsylvania would preclude more passages in nearby states like New York that don't want to fall behind neighbors who are reaping rewards of expanded gambling revenue. New Jersey online casinos, for example, have raised nearly $100 million to date in tax revenue for the state.

It seems those hopes will be on ice for at least another year, unless something drastic happens between now and the end of the year in the Pennsylvania legislature.

Photo courtesy of Sam LeVan/

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