Anti-Online Gambling Bill Introduced in Pennsylvania

Posted on by Tim Hernandez

Anti-Online Gambling Bill Introduced in PennsylvaniaA fourth Bill related to online gambling has been introduced in Pennsylvania – this one aiming to prohibit all forms of Internet gambling activity.

The online gambling bills are certainly stacking up in Pennsylvania. John Payne´s HB 649, Nick Miccarelli´s HB 695 and Tina Davis´ HB 920 are all in front of the House Gaming Oversight Committee, and yesterday the three pro-Internet gaming proposals were joined by Thomas Murt´s HB 1013.

However, unlike its three predecessors, Murt´s Bill aims to prohibit online gambling in Pennsylvania and check the powers of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. He aims to introduce financial penalties for any individual caught placing a bet on the Internet, and have persistent offenders charged with a Class 3 Misdemeanor.

Identical in Content to Clymer´s Anti-Gambling Proposals

Rather than being a new Bill, Murt´s HB 1013 is identical in content to proposals introduced in 2013 by Representative Paul Clymer. The bill consists of just two pages, yet is cleverly constructed to eliminate any misinterpretation, any skill vs. luck argument, or any circumnavigation of the law by betting with Bitcoin.

Under the proposals, Pennsylvania´s Gaming Control Board would be prohibited from even considering proposals for online gambling – gambling being defined in Pennsylvania as any activity that involves consideration, chance and reward (the authorities acknowledge that poker involves some skill, but note that the outcome of a hand can be determined by a randomly dealt card).

Could HB 1013 be Any More than an Annoying Distraction?

It is unlikely that HB 1013 will get any further than the House Gaming Oversight Committee, which has already held a positive hearing into John Payne´s HB 649 and which last week passed a resolution urging the state´s federal representatives to oppose the Restoration of Americas Wire Act (RAWA HR 707).

Indeed, the timing of anti-online gambling proposals is mystifying in light of recent events. Pennsylvania is widely acknowledged as most likely being the next state to introduce regulated online gambling, and the only possible explanation for introducing a Bill opposing online gambling is to pay lip service to Sheldon Adelson, who owns one of Pennsylvania´s twelve brick and mortar casinos.

Payne´s Philosophy has Common Sense Approach

John Payne – who is chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee – has repeatedly argued that he is not trying to introduce online gambling in Pennsylvania, but just trying to make it safe. Internet gambling is already here he told the press. I´m not trying to expand it, I´m trying to make it legal and I´m trying to make sure we make sure people aren´t ripped off.

His philosophy has won many supporters in Pennsylvania´s legislative chambers, and his crusade to regulate online gambling has not gone unnoticed in the Keystone State´s upper chamber. In a recent press interview Senator Jay Costa said he would be willing to look at the proposals if they were to be passed by the House of Representatives.

That won´t happen until the Bill is approved by the House Gaming Oversight Committee, who are expected to vote on John Payne´s proposals following a further hearing scheduled for May 6th. With the support of Democratic co-chair Nick Kotik, HB 649 is likely to progress to the floor of the House; but will it make it through the lower chamber to be debated by the Senate? Watch this space!

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