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While several states have seen efforts to legalize online poker get detoured over the last few years, Pennsylvania is barreling forward with an gambling bill that includes a provision for online poker.
Over the last week the bill passed through the Pennsylvania senate with a resounding 38-12 vote.
The bill will now move to the House of Representatives where’s it’s expected to pass with amendments in June.
Concerns About High Tax Rate
The bill, which covers both online casinos and poker, features specific tax rates for operators in the state.
The taxes have been criticized by industry experts for being to steep with a staggering 54% rate for online casinos and a 16% for online poker.
Some operators have stated they will not pursue licenses in the state if tax rates are too high.
Licenses for online poker will cost $5m as will the separate licenses for online casinos.
The bill would also allow Pennsylvania to run online state lotteries and regulate daily fantasy sports.
It’s estimated that taxes and license fees generated from the legalization of online casinos and online poker could potentially earn the state hundreds of millions in revenue over the coming years.
The House of Representatives could potentially amend the bill to lower the prospective tax rate for operators in the state.
Huge Potential Market for Online Poker
If the bill passes Pennsylvania would instantly become the biggest online poker market in the United States.
According to a 2015 census Pennsylvania has a population of 12.8+ million people, which would surpass the New Jersey market by four million people.
Nevada would remain a distant third with under three million people and Delaware’s population of less than one million is still struggling to get enough liquidity to run games.
Pennsylvania is already a solid market for live poker with Parx Casino and SugarHouse drawing record numbers to some of their tournaments over the last few years.
Of course the two white whales of online poker in the USA remain New York and California.
Poker has all but stalled out in California, however, after various parties couldn’t reach any sort of consensus on potential legislation in 2016.