online gambling Donald Trump Hillary Clinton

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will go head-to-head following their respective conventions, but don’t expect to hear much about online gambling from the presidential candidates. (Image: Left: Scott Olson/Getty Images/Right: Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

Online gambling isn’t expected to be a topic of discussion at an upcoming debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, but the subject could become an issue the next president will need to deal with.

Only the most devout gambler or online player would vote for a president solely on his or her views on gaming. But for many, the subject will certainly play a role in their decision.

After touting his business record at the Republican National Convention (RNC), this week the Democrats are using their forum to discredit Trump’s companies, specifically those in Atlantic City.

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker (D) has been the most outspoken critic of Trump thus far at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

“I take particular interest in the fact that Trump says he would run our country like he’s run his businesses. Well, I’m from Jersey,” Booker said. “We’ve seen how he leads in Atlantic City. He got rich while his companies declared multiple bankruptcies.”

Online gambling is under siege by some in Congress. And if legislation somehow makes its way to the president’s desk, the vote this November has the potential to overhaul the market in the United States.

Can Trump Be Bought?

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) are the two most active anti-Internet casino politicians.

The two conservatives are pushing the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA). RAWA would reverse the federal Wire Act to its pre-2011 interpretation before the Department of Justice opined the statute applied only to online sports betting and not general online casino gaming.

Behind Graham and Chaffetz is of course Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire who is working hard through his campaign contributions to place Trump inside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Adelson has made it his moral mission to prevent the expansion of online gambling.

It’s hard to imagine Trump being anti-anything related to gambling, the market sector that helped make him a billionaire. But when a man gives you $100 million, as Adelson’s effectively done through super PAC donations, one might be inclined to change his mind.

Can Clinton Change?

Tonight Hillary Clinton will officially accept the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in what will be a historic moment. The first lady to be the nominee for president of a major political party in the history of the United States, when it comes to iGaming Clinton’s stance is a bit unclear.

Like Trump, Clinton supports land-based commercial gambling.

However, Clinton also voted for the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) while serving as the senator from New York. UIGEA made it illegal for online payment processors to facilitate transactions for customers related to Internet gambling.

Clinton then did a bit of flip-flop as two years later she supported a study to examine Internet gambling and its benefits to individual states.

Daily Fantasy Sports

The truth of the matter is that federal legislation like RAWA seems to have rather minimal odds of even reaching a Senate or House vote during the next 12 months.

Daily fantasy sports (DFS) could be a different story.

DFS came up at a Republican primary debate, and Congress held a hearing on the emerging market in May. Both candidates haven’t shown any ill will towards DFS and as of now give no reason for DFS proponents to believe they’d oppose a legal resolution to the largely unregulated environment.

RAWA Donald Trump Sheldon Adelson 2016 RNC

Donald Trump might want to consider backing RAWA in order to please his biggest supporters, billionaire donors Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, seen here. (Image: Andy Abboud/

RAWA, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, would reverse the trend of online gambling expansion in the United States. A bill that seeks to return the Wire Act’s interpretation to its 2011 level before the Department of Justice opined, RAWA would make Internet gambling illegal on the federal level.

This week’s Republican National Convention (RNC) has been anything but run-of-the-mill. Plenty of controversy has ensued in downtown Cleveland, but the goal of the Republican Party was still realized: Donald Trump is the 2016 GOP candidate.

Getting there hasn’t been easy, and there will certainly be consequences.

Enter Sheldon Adelson. While many GOP mega-donors like the Koch brothers sit on the sidelines disgruntled with the outspoken and anti-establishment GOP nominee, Adelson is playing the game.

Estimated to be worth $30 billion, the Las Vegas Sands CEO has given $100 million to a Trump super political action committee. That’s good news for Republicans who want to see anyone but Hillary Clinton become the 45th president of the United States.

But it’s likely bad news for anyone who wants to gamble online.

Payment Paybacks

Adelson has previously stated this his wishes to see RAWA passed are based upon more beliefs that the Internet is no place for gambling. It’s one of the reasons Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was Adelson’s rumored preferred pick as the Floridian was one of the cosponsors of the legislation.

Donald Trump wouldn’t appear to be someone who would support banning a state’s right to legalize online casinos.

In fact, in 2011 he said Internet gambling must happen. “Like usual, the US is just missing out,” Trump said of the issue.

Trump largely self-funded his primary campaign. Now up against the presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and the family’s so-called political machine, the real estate mogul and former casino mogul is looking for funding.

Adelson has come to the rescue, and it doesn’t take an insider to know the donations come with expected returns. Online gambling certainly doesn’t overshadow Adelson’s business interests both domestic and abroad, and certainly not his mission to strengthen US relations with Israel.

But RAWA is thought to be on his shortlist of demands.

Seeking Sheldon

The four-day Republican National Convention comes to a close this evening following Trump’s formal acceptance of the GOP nomination. Republicans hoped the convention would bring the party together, but plenty of divide remains.

That was made evident when Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was booed off the stage after refusing to endorse Trump. A “never Trump” movement prompted a failed rules vote change to unbind delegates earlier in the week.

Numerous political action committees have sought Adelson this week in Cleveland as funding is running thin this cycle. He’s taken various meetings, but denied many, too.

Cruz tried to see the billionaire after his speech but was promptly turned away.

The Democrats appear more united on the surface, but they too have their kinks to iron out. The Democratic National Convention begins July 25 in Philadelphia.

As shocking as it might be to some, the 2016 presidential race has come down to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Pennsylvania online gambling Tom Wolf

Governor Tom Wolf is calling on his state legislature to find ways to fund a $31.5 billion budget, and Pennsylvania online gambling remains one viable candidate. (Image: Chris Knight/Associated Press)

Pennsylvania online gambling will have to wait until things cool down in Harrisburg, both inside the Capitol Building and the weather outside. After months of speculation, discussion, and amending, Keystone State lawmakers are opting to set aside gambling expansion until they reconvene in the fall.

The General Assembly passed a $31.5 billion budget this week, but have no idea how they’re going to pay for an estimated $1-2 billion shortfall.

Governor Tom Wolf (D) allowed the spending plan to go into law free of his signature. Wolf avoided attaching his John Hancock to the appropriations bill due to the legislature failing to recommend ways to fund it.

Allowing off-track horse wagering parlors and airports to offer slot machines, paired with the legalization of online casinos, remains one option being considered by the Republican-controlled General Assembly. However, after passing the budget to Wolf, the legislature adjourned.

Lawmakers will return to Harrisburg in September for a special session to determine how to bridge the funding gap. The House will reconvene on September 19, and the Senate will return on September 26.

Revenue Plan Passed

Before locking up the Capitol Building, the legislature and Wolf passed a $1.38 billion budget bailout package.

The bill raises various taxes including $1 per pack of cigarettes sold. That means Pennsylvania smokers will be handing over $2.60 to the state every time they purchase a pack.

Sin taxes are often targeted first when looking to increase government revenue, but Pennsylvania is going after a much wider demographic. In addition to cigarettes, the state’s six percent sales tax will now apply to digital downloads of music, video games, books, apps and more.

Considering it’s an election year, the tax impositions could be consequential. The 116 yes votes in the House and 28 in the Senate will need to answer to constituents as many seek reelection.

The budget bailout also assumes $100 million from pending gambling legislation. While the details could change, it’s likely that online gambling will be offered to land-based casinos at a cost of $8 million per license.

Garden State iGambling Blooms

Pennsylvania leaders might be smart to legalize online gambling sooner rather than later. In New Jersey, business is good.

According to figures released this week by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), online casinos pulled in $16.4 million in June. That’s a 40.6 percent jump compared to the same month in 2015.

However, it’s not all sunshine and roses in the most populated state with legalized Internet gaming.

Compared to May, the $16.4 million is actually about a $144,000 decrease. It also marks the third consecutive month-to-month drop.

Regardless, the market is strong and is performing well coming out of the cooler spring months.

As residents flock to the Jersey Shore, online gaming revenues understandably dip. But the expected downward trend has been minimal.

In fact, year-to-date New Jersey online gambling is 31.7 percent ahead of where it was at the same point in 2015. The market has already generated $94.8 million in gross revenues, with $14,222,434 going to the state in taxes.

eSports online gaming regulation oversight

eSports online gaming is quickly finding favor among fans, as websites now give viewers the chance to become fully engaged and invested in tournament outcomes. (Image:

eSports is no longer a little-known underground environment where video game fanatics compete against one another. In what seems like only a matter of months, eSports has gone from a fringe hobby to a multibillion-dollar market.

Along with it comes plenty of controversy.

The rapidly growing eSports craze is now being watched by millions of fans around the world. And online sites are popping up to give viewers the chance to place wagers on the outcomes of certain matches and tournaments.

Unfortunately, not all online operators have been playing by the rules. Allegations of both cheating and match-fixing have come to the forefront of eSports.

Just in time is the Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC), a not-for-profit association based in the UK. “The mission of the ESIC is to be the recognized guardian of the integrity of eSports and to take responsibility for disruption, prevention, investigation and prosecution of all forms of cheating, including, but not limited to, match manipulation and doping,” the group declares on its website.

eSports in the US

Gambling on eSports in the US has largely been confined to playing for collectible in-game items. Players often bet with real money, but if they win they’re awarded prizes that can be utilized in their favorite video game.

That’s slowly changing, however, as companies move towards more real money play.

DraftKings is one such example. Similar to its daily fantasy sports games, DraftKings has offered contests on big eSports tournaments like the “League of Legends” and “Dota 2.”

Players select a roster of tournament players and compete against the field for a chance at winning real money.

While you might think eSports consists of teens playing in their parents’ basement, nothing could be further from the truth. According to the Entertainment Software Association, the average video game fan is 36-years-old who resides in a house with an annual income of $76,000.

“A significant percentage of fans are working professionals with buying power,” Mindshare Spotlight Managing Director Joshua Spiegelman, an eSports expert, told CNBC in May.

All Fun and Games Until…

The eSports boom has launched with little to no oversight in the US and around the world. That will likely soon change after it came to light this week that two “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” (CS: GO) stars falsely led their fans into using a gambling site the two partially owned.

Trevor Martin and Tom Cassell, respectively known as “TmarTN” and “Syndicate Project,” promoted a YouTube video of themselves gambling on a website called CSGO Lotto. In the video, the two stars showed how easy it was to win in-game prizes.

CSGO Lotto catered to the “Counter-Strike” fan base by offering real money gambling formats with certain game prizes, also referred to as “skins,” up for grabs. Skins consist of various items like special guns and ammo.

The skins can be transferred to other players and basically swapped among friends. That’s created a black market.

CSGO Lotto is a third-party website, and “Counter-Strike” software developer Valve quickly alerted its community that Martin and Cassell were directing followers to the gambling site for their own good.

The two have since issued apologies, but not before many of their fans were taken.

The US Congress no doubt has plenty on its plate. But with minimum ages listed as young as 13 to participate in eSports, regulation and oversight on the new market is expected to soon make its way to Washington, DC.

Donald Trump Sheldon Adelson 2016 campaign

Sheldon Adelson is one of Donald Trump’s biggest supporters, and the nephew of one of the Las Vegas Sands Chairman’s closest executives recently landed a position with the Trump campaign. (Image: Jeff Scheid/Associated Press)

Donald Trump has hired Michael Abboud to be his new communications coordinator and help him overcome Hillary Clinton’s persistent attacks. With just five full months remaining before voters head to the polls in November, Trump is ramping up his communications and media department to help deliver his message.

That message, if you don’t already know, is to “Make America Great Again.”

The billionaire real estate tycoon hopes Abboud can help relay his political agenda.

“I am constantly building a superior political team. After winning the most votes in the history of a Republican primary contest, we are taking our messages to the people,” Trump said.

Abboud is the nephew of Las Vegas Sand (LVS) executive Andy Abboud. LVS is of course owned by Sheldon Adelson, one of the richest humans on planet Earth who’s committed $100 million to a Trump super PAC.

Trump also hired former Ted Cruz campaign advisor Jason Miller and promoted senior staffer Alan Cobb to “Director of Coalitions.”

Uncles in High Places

No one is spending more on Trump’s Oval Office aspirations than Adelson, and that includes the candidate himself. Perhaps Adelson or Andy Abboud put in a word with Trump for the 26-year-old Michael.

Michael has racked up plenty of experience in the political arena during his young career. He previously worked for the Republican National Committee Communications Department and served on Nebraska State Sen. Pete Pirsch’s (R-District 4) failed campaign to become the state’s attorney general.

Though apparently qualified for the position, Abboud will unquestionably need to be on his game as Trump’s 2016 campaign begins its final descent towards November.

Pennsylvania Deals iGambling

The national polls currently have Clinton ahead of Trump by about five points. The latest news out of Pennsylvania also won’t be well received by Adelson.

The state’s House of Representatives voted to pass an online gambling and daily fantasy sports (DFS) bill this week. The measure is seen by proponents as a way to protect residents already playing online fantasy contests and casino games, while opponents see the law as a money grab.

Governor Tom Wolf (D) is increasing spending on education, and the General Assembly, which the GOP controls, doesn’t want to increase taxes to pay for it.

Adelson is perhaps the most dominant voice for the side against iGambling. The man worth an estimated $30 billion says his fight against Internet casinos is a moral obligation.

Speaking of $30 billion, that’s close to the proposed annual budget for the entire state of Pennsylvania. The state Senate passed a $31.55 billion financial plan on June 30, and it seems to satisfy Wolf’s education demands.

The House’s online gambling package would license technological software companies partnered with land-based casinos to offer Internet gambling. The bill would also regulate DFS, and put slots in certain off-track wagering facilities and airport terminals.

Should the legislation find favor in the state Senate and receive Wolf’s signature, Adelson says he’ll suspend all projects at his Sands Bethlehem casino near Allentown, Pennsylvania. The property is currently planning to expand its hotel and casino.

Pennsylvania online gambling slots OTB

Slots could soon becoming to various off-track wagering sites should a Pennsylvania online gambling bill be passed by the State Senate. (Image:

Another Pennsylvania online gambling measure has passed the state’s House of Representatives as lawmakers in Harrisburg look to offset increased spending by Democratic Governor Tom Wolf.

The latest bill would expand gambling from land-based casinos to online sites, regulate daily fantasy sports (DFS), and place slot machines in airports and off-track betting (OTB) facilities. An amendment that would have allowed bars and taverns to offer up to four video gaming terminals was defeated.

Authored by State Rep. George Dunbar (R-District 56), House Bill 2150 passed 115-80 on June 22. It now moves to the Senate for additional consideration.

First introduced as a statute to regulate DFS contests, the bill swelled in recent weeks to encompass online gambling and slots expansion.

“We drafted this bill with the idea of providing consumer protections for all those individuals that are participating,” Dunbar said earlier this month.

Those feelings mimic State Rep. John Payne (R-District 42), the leading proponent of iGambling in the Keystone State. Payne has repeatedly stated that the legalization of online gambling isn’t expanded gambling as it’s already running rampant in homes across the Commonwealth.

Details Emerge

Dunbar’s legislation, which as expected received Payne’s vote, will charge Internet gambling operators $8 million per license. Similar to the arrangement in New Jersey, online casinos would be partnered with current land-based commercial gambling facilities.

Gross revenues from online gambling would be taxed at 16 percent, and a system of problem gambling safeguards would need to be implemented online for those who wish to limit their play.

Pennsylvania’s five racetrack casinos would also be allowed to put slot machines at off-track wagering facilities that are at least 50 miles away from an actual track. Companies that wish to do so will pay the state $5 million for each OTB site, and proceeds would be taxed at 54 percent.

Airport fees would vary for casinos ranging from $1 million to $5 million depending on the locale. The slots would only be available to ticketed passengers.

Finally, DFS seems to get the best deal in Dunbar’s legislation. Operators like DraftKings and FanDuel will pay just five percent of their revenues to Harrisburg, and that’s after the sites payout on their customer’s winnings.

The bill is certainly a money grab by the GOP in Pennsylvania as the Republican-controlled legislature looks to overcome a potential budget gap of $2 billion.

California Looks at Online Poker

It seems to be a broken record in Pennsylvania regarding online gambling, and the same is true out west in California. For more than a year, lawmakers have been struggling to find a way to legalize some sort of Internet gambling, but there’s much conflict between the Native America tribes, horsemen, and commercial card clubs.

Hope reemerged this week after Assemblyman Adam Gray’s (D-District 21) bill to legalize online poker passed the State Assembly’s Appropriations Committee. The proposition would license online companies at a cost of $12.5 million per, with a 10 percent tax levied on gross revenues.

So-called “bad actors” like PokerStars would be forced to pay $20 million for inclusion due to the network’s operations between 2006 and 2011.

While online poker fans are excited about Gray’s attempts, it’s worth nothing that the Assembly Appropriations Committee passed Gray’s shell bill last year. The measure never received a floor vote.

New York online poker bill John Bonacic

State Senator John Bonacic saw his New York online poker bill pass his chamber this week, but odds are small that the State Assembly will approve the legislation before lawmakers in Albany adjourn for the year. (Image: Times Herald-Record File Photo/

New York online poker bill S.5302 passed the State Senate in overwhelming fashion on June 14 by a vote of 53-5 and now moves to the State Assembly, but time is of utmost importance if the legislation wants to become law in 2016.

Introduced by State Senator John Bonacic (R-District 42) and cosponsored by State Sen. Tony Avella (D-District 11), S.5302 would deem poker to be a game of skill over luck and therefore legalize the card game over the Internet. Operators would pay a one-time $10 million fee and 15 percent taxes on gross revenues.

Proponents of online gambling celebrated the landmark passage by the New York Senate.

“Today marks a major achievement for Internet poker regulation,” Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas said in a release. “Thousands of PPA members in New York have contacted their state lawmakers and the state Senate responded by passing a bill that would finally provide consumers with a safe and regulated place to play poker online.”

Timing is Everything

Unfortunately for poker fans in the Empire State, the chances of online poker becoming law in 2016 are about as likely as that 7-2 off suit winning a hand.

That’s because the legislative calendar in New York comes to a close today, June 16. There’s simply not enough time for the State Assembly to cover its checks and balances.

S.5302 would first need to gain approval from the Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee, and then obtain a majority vote on the actual Assembly floor. Even the most casual political observer understands 48 hours is certainly not an adequate timeframe for such measures to be achieved by lawmakers.

“With the state legislative session coming to an end this week, now is the time for the Assembly to make iPoker regulation a priority,” Pappas continued.

DraftKings & FanDuel Talk Merger

No gambling topic has caused more controversy and coverage over the last 12 months than daily fantasy sports (DFS).

Valued at over $1 billion each during their peak, Bloomberg is reporting that the two market leaders DraftKings and FanDuel have been in touch regarding a possible merger. While both DFS platforms declined to comment, rumors are abound that the Boston and New York-based companies are close to reaching a deal.

It would seem to make sense considering the ongoing legal challenges DFS is facing in states across the country. Once a thriving emerging industry noted for its incessant television marketing campaigns, daily fantasy seemingly took a step back in 2015 as state attorneys general declared the contests illegal.

FanDuel has ceased operations in 10 states, while DraftKings has exited nine.

Plenty of promise remains for the real-money games as multiple state legislatures are taking action to implement regulations on daily fantasy sports. Most notably is New York, the fourth most populated state and home to Eric Schneiderman, the attorney general who’s been more actively against DFS than any other leading legal authority.

Joining forces would give DraftKings and FanDuel a near monopoly on DFS, and position the leaders to make a more concerted and united voice for their industry.

Nevada Gaming Control Board daily fantasy sports

Daily fantasy sports could soon return to the gambling epicenter of the US after the Nevada Gaming Control Board recommended approving a new DFS applicant that would partner with casinos and other pari-mutuel facilities. (Image: John Locher/Associated Press)

The Nevada Gaming Control Board voted unanimously on June 8 to approve a new form of daily fantasy sports (DFS) after longtime sportsbook operator Vic Salerno filed a petition to license the contests at pari-mutuel betting facilities.

Salerno, who founded American Wagering and was inducted into the Gaming Hall of Fame last year, knows how things work in Nevada and Las Vegas. The seasoned oddsmaker sold his company to William Hill US in 2011, but remains its chairman.

He applied in December for a DFS permit for his newly formed enterprise, listed as US Fantasy, to offer daily fantasy games through racetracks, off-tack betting parlors, casinos, and lotteries.

“It’s so simple, I can’t understand why anyone didn’t think of this before,” Salerno told the Las Vegas Review-Journal recently. “Fantasy sports has proven to be an attractive offering.”

Salerno clarified that William Hill US is not involved with US Fantasy.

Daily Fantasy Gets Another Day

Last October, Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R) issued a memorandum against daily fantasy leaders DraftKings and FanDuel declaring their products to be outside current gaming law in the Silver State.

“Daily fantasy sports constitute sports pools and gambling games,” Laxalt opined. “As a result, pay-to-play daily fantasy sports cannot be offered in Nevada without licensure.”

The primary difference between DraftKings and FanDuel’s operations compared to US Fantasy’s bid is that the latter would be operated under the umbrella of a licensed and regulated gambling facility.

Should the Nevada Gaming Commission approve Salerno’s request as it’s expected to do, mobile DFS wagering would likely be implemented with the US Fantasy rollout. If everything stays on-track, Salerno believes he can have his turnkey answer to DFS up and running by mid-August.

He won’t want to waste a minute as the DFS power players will undoubtedly follow suit.

Michigan iGambling Advances

Various states are currently looking at online gambling legislation including Pennsylvania, New York, and California. Michigan is the latest jurisdiction to get in on the action.

The 10th most populated state in the US, Michigan online gambling bill SB 889 passed the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee 8-1 on June 8 and moves the legislation to the chamber’s floor.

Authored and introduced by State Senator Mike Kowall (R-District 15), SB 889 would charge operators $5 million per license, plus a $100,000 application fee. Gross revenues would be taxed at 10 percent.

Proponents of online gambling celebrated the news out of Lansing, but Kowall quickly crashed the party: nothing else will happen in 2016.

That’s because the Senate legislative calendar is coming to a close, June 16 to be exact, but the vote was still promising for 2017.

“Our goal was to get the bill out of committee and onto the Senate floor, and that’s what we did,” Kowall’s Chief of Staff Dave Biswas said. “There’s not enough time but yesterday was obviously a huge step forward.”

SB 889’s rapid advancement through the Michigan Senate raised eyebrows in May when it was revealed Kowall’s wife works for the same lobbying firm that represents Amaya. Kowall has said there’s no conflict of interest and his wife isn’t on the Amaya account.

online gambling legislation Pennsylvania New York

Much to the chagrin of Sands Bethlehem owner Sheldon Adelson, online gambling legislation is being pushed in Pennsylvania and New York. (Image: Associated Press/

Online gambling legislation has been a topic of consideration in various state capitals around the country throughout the 2016 calendar year, but lawmakers in Pennsylvania and New York seem most motivated to actually do something about the untapped and unregulated industry.

With only Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey currently offering online casinos, adding a state the size of either the Keystone or Empire State would be significant for the iGambling community as a whole. The two states combined represent about 11 percent of the total US population, and their ratification could entice other states to join the Internet gaming movement.

Commercial land-based gambling has rapidly expanded over the last decade in the Midwest and Northeast, and it’s presumed that should Pennsylvania or New York move to bring gaming online, states like Maryland, Ohio, and Illinois would be forced to follow suit in order to stay competitive.

Pennsylvania Budget

In the Keystone State, Republicans in Harrisburg are pushing the legislature to consider a series of gaming expansions including online gambling.

Backed by State Rep. John Payne (R-District 106), the House considered adding iGambling and allowing airports to offer slot machines to a statute that dictated how gambling tax revenues are utilized by the state. The legislation add-ons were ultimately voted against, but will return to the House floor when the chamber resumes June 6 to begin the long process of writing a budget for the 2016-2017 cycle.

Governor Tom Wolf (D) wants to restore spending that was cut by his Republican predecessor Tom Corbett. But that means the state would be looking at a $1.2 billion budget deficit.  

With fewer taxes a pillar of conservatism, Republicans are eyeing Payne’s concepts as one potential way to cover Wolf’s gap. Payne’s iGaming bill (HB 649) would license land-based casinos for Internet play at a cost of $5 million each, with proceeds taxed at 14 percent.

“Nearly 2,000 years ago, the Roman philosopher Seneca said that luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity,” Payne prophesied when he introduced the bill. “By enacting effective state policy today, we can help prepare Pennsylvania’s gaming industry for the future, protect consumers and seize the opportunity to safely meet consumer demand and generate new revenue for the Commonwealth.”

New York State of Mind

Pennsylvania’s neighbor to the north, New York is also actively pursuing the riches that online gambling might bring. On June 2, the New York Senate Finance Committee voted to move State Sen. John Bonacic’s (R-District 42) online poker bill to the Senate floor.

Bonacic’s legislation would cost operators a one-time $10 million fee, then be on the hook for a 15 percent revenue tax.

In addition to online poker, New York is looking at daily fantasy sports (DFS) legislation, also authored by Bonacic. That bill is expected to be heard by the same Finance Committee early next week.

The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) celebrated the news.

“The regulations of DFS and Internet poker can happen simultaneously and there is no need to wait to adopt strict regulations and safeguards for both,” PPA Executive Direction John Pappas said.

Nothing is final, and surely nothing is yet legal, but Pennsylvania and New York being proactive with iGambling is promising for those who believe a regulated market better protects consumers.

Pennsylvania online gambling John Payne RAWA

It’s back to the drawing board for State Rep. John Payne after language he authored for Pennsylvania online gambling was stripped from a comprehensive bill package related to gambling in the state. (Image:

Pennsylvania online gambling is off the table in Harrisburg, but down in Washington, DC, so is the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA).

The news is a mixed bag for Internet gambling proponents as many were hoping for the Keystone State, the sixth most populated state in the country, to join Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware in authorizing online casinos. Of course, no state would be allowed to license Internet gambling if RAWA would be passed and signed into law, as the federal legislation would restore the Wire Act to its pre-2011 interpretation.

Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas summed up the May 24 events by tweeting, “Victory in DC w/RAWA amendment being withdrawn. Redo in PA with iGaming still open for consideration at a later date.”

The Bad News

As has been reporting, State Rep. John Payne (R-District 106) has been leading the push for online poker and gambling in Pennsylvania for more than a year. His legislation, House Bill 649, calls for the legalization of online casino games and the potential liberalization of daily fantasy sports (DFS).

This month state lawmakers added Payne’s iGaming language as an amendment to House Bill 1925, legislation that dictates how gaming revenue from land-based casinos in Pennsylvania is utilized.

But on May 24, House politicians in Pennsylvania voted 122-66 against the Payne add-on and thus removed such language from HB 1925. Payne’s bill to regulate online betting in Pennsylvania isn’t dead, but the statute will need to find a new way to become law.

The Good News

Backed by Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire whose real estate portfolio includes The Venetian and Palazzo in Las Vegas, RAWA seeks to eradicate a 2011 opinion issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

On September 20, 2011, the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel published a memo that concluded, “Interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a ‘sporting event or contest’ fall outside of the reach of the Wire Act.”

The DOJ issued its position on the Wire Act after Illinois and New York asked the department to opine if they could “use the Internet and out-of-state transaction processors to sell lottery tickets to in-state adults.”

Adelson has made it his personal mission to ban online gaming ever since, and has used his political clout to pressure lawmakers into backing RAWA. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) have championed the legislation in their respective chambers.

RAWA has been the subject of two House committee hearings, but the legislation has found little support. It was largely thought to have been shelved until earlier this month when RAWA-like language sneaked into a Senate Appropriations bill.

It then maneuvered its way into a 2017 fiscal year spending bill authored by the House Appropriations Committee. However, on May 24 Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pennsylvania) said he would withdrawal the amendment in order to expedite the bill’s passage.

“I think the DOJ overstepped its bounds by disregarding congressional intent and acting unilaterally by issuing that opinion,” Dent said. “I want to draw attention to this issue and request that the committee continue to work with me to reassert congressional oversight. . . At this time, I ask unanimous consent to withdrawal my amendment.”