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However, it’s still not headed to the desk of Gov. Tom Wolf. Why not, and what’s next for DFS in the Keystone State?
Action happened quickly on an omnibus gaming bill — H 271 — in the House on Wednesday. Two weeks ago, the PA Senate had passed a gaming bill with DFS in it, but it had been dormant in the House ever since.
In the afternoon, the House Rules Committee amended the bill in a major way — including with changes that would affect DFS. (More on that later.)
But the bulk of the changes were on much more contentious issues, including online gambling and the authorization of video gambling terminals (VGTs) in taverns around the state.
Despite those changes, the bill passed later in the evening, 102-89. Because the bill changed, it has to go back to the Senate for concurrence.
The House amended the DFS provisions in several ways, but the biggest difference from the Senate version passed in May was on the tax rate.
The House raised the tax rate on daily fantasy sports operators’ gross revenue in the state to 19 percent. The Senate had set it at 12 percent. A 19 percent rate would be among the highest in the nation for DFS.
Of course, at this point, the bill is still far from being law. Those numbers are not set in stone.
(Also of note, the House version would seek to legalize sports betting in the state, should federal law allow for it.)
DFS regulation is a relatively non-controversial moving part in the bill. However, the fate of the entire bill — which has all manner of gaming expansions in it — is still in flux.
The bill heads to the Senate once again, and it’s not clear what will happen there.
There are several possible results. The Senate could simply let the bill die in its chamber. More likely, perhaps, is a conference committee with members of both the House and the Senate determining the bill’s final language.
DFS language is very likely to survive in the final version of the gaming bill. The question will be whether common ground can be found between the two chambers on all the other gaming matters. The VGTs represent a large gap between the House and the Senate. It’s believed the upper chamber has no interest in those provisions.
If they can’t find middle ground on VGTs and everything else, DFS legalization and regulation might not happen in Pennsylvania this year.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the House lowered the playing age for DFS contests to 18. The bill always had a minimum age of 21.