March 8, 2017

Hearing: Gaming Board Supports iGaming Oversight, Extending License Renewal Period

Kevin O’Toole, the Executive Director of the PA Gaming Control Board told a joint Senate and House oversight committees’ hearing Wednesday the Board supports House Bill 392 (Dunbar-R-Westmoreland) putting oversight of iGaming and fantasy sports activities with the Board and recommended extending the casino license renewal period from 3 to 5 years.
O’Toole also offered support for expanding slots play to skill-based slot machines and hybrid slots like New Jersey already offers.
David Satz,  Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Development for Caesars Entertainment (which owns Harrah’s casino and racetrack in Delaware County) said millions of Americans are gambling online illegally with no consumer protections, no protection for the vulnerable and with no tax revenue coming back to the states.
He argued it is not if the state should legalize it, but how.  He noted Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey already have Internet gambling and they are doing it safely.
Satz said New Jersey’s experience shows online gambling does not cannibalize existing casino operations, but allows casinos to reachout to previously unknown or inactive customers.
He pointed to a Legislative Budget and Finance Committee report in 2014 which said the ongoing revenue potential for online gambling in Pennsylvania could mean as much as $43 million in additional tax revenue, with the current tax rates, plus upfront licensing fees of and estimated $60 million.
Senate Majority Committee Chair Sen. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe) said one of the other significant issues that needs to be dealt with in the budget is the local share tax program declared unconstitutional by the PA Supreme Court.  
The Court gave lawmakers an extension until May 26 to fix the issue before the program goes away.  Many communities in the state have made individual agreements with casinos to extend the local share grants until the issue is resolved, but not all.
House Majority Committee Chair Rep. Scott Petri (R-Bucks) said he wants to start talking about the issue of video gaming terminals when there is an actual bill, nothing there should be one in the next week or two.
Click Here for copies of testimony presented at the hearing.
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