Pennsylvania Lawmaker Pushes for Internet Gambling
Following a trend that is currently sweeping the nation, a Pennsylvania lawmaker has proposed a new bill that would bring Internet-based wagering to the Keystone State. State Representative Tina Davis, Democrat of Bucks County, expects the legislation could be introduced to the state’s House of Representatives sometime this week.
Davis, who took office two years ago in 2011, noted that many states across the country are adopting measures to allow for online gambling, including Delaware, a close neighbor to Pennsylvania. It is expected that New Jersey will also soon begin rolling out real-money Internet gambling to residents.
The issue of gambling can be a highly contentious one that often divides strictly along party lines, with many GOP members citing moral reasons and a possible rise in problem gambling as a reason for opposing measures related to gambling. Davis admits that the online gambling legislation she is putting forward might face an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania legislature, but has decided to throw her backing behind it anyway.
“It will happen eventually,” Davis said.
On the other hand, proponents of expanded gambling point to the potential for revenue that comes with opening new land-based casinos or offering online gambling, though the latter has yet to be proven considering that while two states – Nevada and Delaware – have passed laws regulating online wagering, games have yet to go live in either location. In the case of expanded land-based casinos, there is also the potential to attract new tourist dollars by luring travelers to high-class, luxurious casino resort properties.
Pennsylvania is doing that, too. Currently the state is reviewing applications to open a Las Vegas-style resort casino in Philadelphia, with major contenders like Steve Wynn hoping to be licensed. If he wins licensing, Wynn has promised to build a first-class property in the City of Brotherly Love, a project that Pennsylvania officials hope will serve a twofold purpose: to bring new tourism and gambling dollars to the state while simultaneously helping to prevent Pennsylvanians from crossing state lines to place wagers.
Meanwhile, Representative Davis has her sights set on online gambling. Under her proposal, Pennsylvanians would be able to access a variety of online betting games, not limited to just online poker as with the legislation passed in Nevada. Perhaps to placate the state’s existing casino industry, Davis’ proposal will require the gambling websites to be operated by casinos and slots-parlor operators that already hold Pennsylvania licenses.
Said Davis, “We structured the bill to still entice folks to go to the casinos.”
“Most folks go to the casinos not only to gamble but to go to the restaurants or to see the entertainment that’s there. Internet gaming would not take that away,” she went on to add.
Davis views the introduction of Internet-based wagering as key to Pennsylvania remaining competitive in a continually expanding gambling market. Last year, Pennsylvania surpassed Atlantic City to become the second-largest gambling market in the United States, and if Representative Davis has her way, it is a title the state intends to hold onto.
“Considering the nationwide efforts to legalize Internet gaming, it is imperative that we maintain the integrity of our gaming industry amid inevitable federal pre-emption and competing states, as well as possible expansion of Internet games through the privatization of our own state lottery,” Davis told reporters last week.
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