(Estimated population as of 2017 — 12,805,537)
Pennsylvania was one of the biggest moves and shakers in the iGaming world in 2014. Back in June, the state held a hearing that suggested most casino interests were in favor of iGaming. In fact, 10 of the state’s 12 casino properties had representatives at the hearing, and only Andy Abboud (a Sheldon Adelson crony) from Las Vegas Sands was opposed.
In addition to the hearing, Sen. Kim Ward, chair of the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee, ordered an iGaming study, which revealed Internet gaming could generate $184 million for the state in its first year, with online poker making up to $77 million.
Rep. Tina Davis introduced a bill to the house in early 2014, but one remained absent from the senate. Meanwhile, both Sen. Edwin Erickson and Rep. Nicholas Miccarelli introduced poker-only bills.
“Pennsylvania is now presented with a second opportunity to be at the forefront of gaming by taking a leadership role with the expansion of online gaming,” said Bob Pickus of Valley Forge Casino Resort.
Interestingly, a recent study by Morgan Stanley Research predicted the “Keystone State” would approve a poker-only bill in 2016 and offering iGaming in 2017.
“We remain bullish on the long-term opportunity for U.S. online gaming,” Morgan Stanley stated.
That prediction proved to be a year off. Things were contentious and looked dire, but weeks after the optimism waned for a bill, Pennsylvania became the fourth U.S. state to legalize online poker, in late October 2017.
Online poker passed in Pennsylvania as part of an omnibus bill that legalized a host of other gambling expansions, including daily fantasy sports, when Gov. Tom Wolf signed H 271 into law. The Pennsylvania regulators have begun accepting applications, and it remains to be seen when the market will open up for players. Some time in last 2018 appears to be the bet at the moment.