It appears that the main, and possibly only stumbling block for online gambling in Pennsylvania to get the go ahead is the amount of tax operators would be required to pay the state. Unlike the continuing but improving state of affairs in California, the majority of the major players in Pennsylvania all agree that online gaming in the state is the way to go, however the huge 54% tax rate that is proposed in the currently filed bill of SB900 is being looked at with more than just a few raised eyebrows.
Most senior figures in the land based casino industry in Pennsylvania are in support of the bill, however many of them such as Eric Schippers of Penn National Gaming are 100% against the 54% tax rate. Schippers remarked that online gaming when regulated and licensed by the state would lose around $20 million in the first 3 years should such a high rate of tax be imposed, arguing that a 14% rate such as that proposed in an earlier bill would be better for all concerned. That was backed up by Sean Sullivan of Meadows Racetrack and Casino who would again support a move into online gaming, but with a tax rate of around 10%.
Other concerns were voiced and differences of opinions appeared, but none of which seem to be show stoppers, as while Robert Green of Parx Casino asked for safeguards in place to make sure that online and land based activity were integrated correctly such as in person registration at the land based casino, Melissa Richards of Harrah’s Chester while expressing huge support for online gaming, said that in person registration could do more damage than good.
Rush Street Gaming who own the SugarHouse and the Rivers Casino expressed support, as did Michael Bean of the Mohegan Sun, however there’s always someone that comes to the party with a long face and that was Mark Juliano from Sands who argued that online gaming would damage the existing casino industry in the state, that it was a ‘job killer’ and erode all progress that’s been seen in the states 9 years of casino action. The debate will continue but nothing major stands in the way of the bill progressing to the next level.