June 20. The summer solstice. The longest day of the year. But will this day -and the remaining days until the June 30, 2017 Pennsylvania budget deadline be long enough for the legislature to agree on a gaming bill?
To recap- the House bill passed earlier in June is more expansive than the Senate bill. Both aim to legalize: (i) Internet gaming in connection with licensed landbased casinos(including tablets at airports); (ii)fantasy sports betting; (iii) skill-based wagering; (iv) on-line lottery ticket sales; and (iv) and slot machines at off-track betting parlors. But they differ in two controversial areas: the Internet gaming tax rate (54 percent in the Senate bill for all games but poker versus 16 percent for all games in the House bill), and the inclusion in the House bill of up to 40,000 video gaming terminals in establishments licensed to serve alcohol. Not to mention they vary in the approach to local share – which is a “time is of the essence issue” as payments are due in July.
Pennsylvania casino operators, and many in the Senate and the House, strongly oppose the video gaming terminals. Can those who oppose iGaming but who more strongly oppose video gaming terminals be convinced to support the iGaming initiative? Can the video gaming terminals be stricken and the rest of the bill, including the tax rate, be compromised and saved? One thing is certain- it is a good thing that today is the longest day.