Thursday was a historic day for the regulated U.S. online gaming industry.
Pennsylvania’s legislature passed a comprehensive gambling expansion packagethat includes the licensing and regulation of online casinos. The state’s 12 casinos will have the opportunity to be operators. They will also be allowed to find their respective tech partners. Online poker revenue will be taxed at 16 and will be used to ease the state’s budget woes.
Pennsylvania’s governor is expected to sign the legislation. He has less than two weeks to do so. Inaction on the measure would make it become law.
The Keystone State will join Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware with regulated online gaming. Thursday ended a four-year drought of no new state joining the equation. New Jersey was the last to do so in 2013, but several others have tried in the meantime.
Just this month New Jersey said that it will soon pool online casino players with Nevada and Delaware. The latter two have been sharing liquidity since 2015.
According to one West Virginia state lawmaker, Pennsylvania’s action this week should provide momentum for his state’s efforts. “With [Pennsylvania] passing sports betting, online poker and daily fantasy legislation today, [West Virginia] must act this session or be left in the dust,” state legislator Shawn Fluharty said on social media.
Such a move would make sense for the state, as Maryland has taken a big bite out of West Virginia casino revenue. The state’s five casinos won $638.5 million from gamblers last year, but it was 2.6 percent less than what was won in 2015.
Also in the Pennsylvania gambling package was a provision to have sports betting should the federal government allow the activity. The Supreme Court will consider the matter in December.
Pennsylvania online gaming could be up and running within a year, and it is likely that some additional time would pass before it joins forces with Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware. There will be nearly 13 million people in the ring-fenced, three-state online poker market. If Pennsylvania joined, it would grow to more than 25.5 million.
There could soon be a tipping point where more and more states would want to join in.