In recent weeks, Pennsylvania has leapfrogged California as the state most likely to legalize online poker in 2015. Many assumed that 2015 would be the year that California finally adopted iPoker regulations but bickering amongst stakeholders continues to delay the process.
Meanwhile, lawmakers in PA are pushing forward in their efforts to legalize online poker and appear to be significantly closer to passing a bill than California has ever been. One could argue that the main reason is that in Pennsylvania, the goal of iPoker regulation is more important than which path it takes.
Goal is More Important Than the Race
There are currently three bills floating around the PA state legislature but most would agree that HB649 originally introduced by Rep. John Payne is the one that will likely move forward.
While each of the three bills has their own unique points, it should be noted that HB649 is actually cosponsored by the Rep. Tina Davis and Rep. Nick Miccarelli, the authors of SB 920 and HB 695.
One can infer from this that while each has their own vision about online gambling in PA, their objection is legalization over nitpicking about minor details. This is something that California stakeholders could learn.
California stakeholders are fighting over bad actors and racetracks and slowing the process to a near stop. Rep. Payne has been quoted at claiming bipartisan support for this bill and Governor Tom Wolf has proven to be open-minded on the issue.
Pennsylvania lawmakers are looking to find ways to work together to get a bill passed. They know that details can be worked out to the mutual benefit of everyone involved. This is a lesson that California has yet to learn.
Hearings Have Already Begun – California Lagging Behind
Pennsylvania Last month, the PA GO Committee held hearings at Harrah’s Philadelphia and Sugarhouse Casino in Philadelphia to gain insight from casino executives regarding online gambling. These hearings were a precursor to larger hearings starting today.
The GO Committee is holding a hearing today on Internet Gaming and Mobile Gaming with another hearing on Internet Gaming to be held on May 6. These hearings show a willingness of lawmakers to fully examine the issue and to begin a push towards a legislative vote.
California on the other hand is just now working on holding joint hearings in the House and Senate. Online Poker Report reported that a hearing is in the works but such a hearing has yet to even receive official approval.
Of course, even with a hearing, there are still multiple hurdles for stakeholders to clear and it seems unlikely that anything will be resolved before time runs out in 2015. One could take the lack of a legislative hearing on the matter as a sign that online poker is nowhere close to coming to a vote.