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Budget Impasse Keeps Pennsylvania Online Poker On Pause


Pennsylvania poker players will have to wait even longer for the opportunity to check-raise online opponents from the privacy of their own homes.

The state’s latest budget impasse continued this week leaving legalized and regulated online poker among the measures on hold until an agreement can be reached over how to pay for the state’s $32 billion budget.

The PA budget impasse

The PA House and Senate both approved spending levels on the $32 billion budget back in June. However, consensus on how to pay for it could not be reached.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives returned in September, passing a bill to fund the budget that included $225 million in tax revenue expected to be generated from the adoption of legal and regulated PA online poker and other gambling expansion initiatives.

While waiting for the bill to pass through the Senate and be signed by Gov. Tom Wolf, the House managed to find several other measures to disagree on, stalling budget talks once again.

Natural gas, hotel tax in the way

This time plans tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas production and increase the state hotel tax rate derailed the budget process. The House could not bring either measure to a vote Wednesday and both the House and Senate adjourned with no plans to return before Oct. 16.

In the meantime, Gov. Wolf claimed he was tired of waiting for the legislature to act on the budget. He said Wednesday he would be begin the process of borrowing against profits from the state-controlled liquor system as a solution to a projected $2.2 billion deficit.

Gambling expansion bill in sight

In the meantime, a comprehensive gambling expansion bill that includes online poker and online casinos stands in limbo.

However, Chris Krafcik, research director at GamblingCompliance, appears to believe the measures are as close to passing as ever before.

Krafcik took to Twitter Wednesday claiming sources in the legislature are telling him an agreement on gambling expansion initiatives is close at hand.

According to Krafcik, the gambling expansion package is now expected to include:

  • Online poker rooms taxed at a rate of 20%
  • Online casinos taxed at a rate of 26%
  • $10 million licensing fees for online operators
  • Up to 10 video gaming terminals each at up to 150 eligible truck stops
  • Up to 10 satellite casinos with up to 500 slots and 40 table games each

Lawmakers may be inching closer to an agreement on gambling expansion. However, it’s impossible to establish a timeline for passing a gambling expansion bill.

In fact, several pundits are now predicting it will be 2018 before Pennsylvania settles its budget impasse. This  would leave online poker on hold until it does.


Martin Derbyshire has more than ten years of experience reporting on the poker, online gambling, and land-based casino industries for a variety of publications including Bluff Magazine, PokerNews, and PokerListings. He has traveled extensively, attending tournaments and interviewing major players in the gambling world.