Bill allows PA to offer sports betting should federal law change via courts or Congress
Legal Sports Report

PA Closes In On Legalizing Sports Betting, Regulating Daily Fantasy Sports

PA sports betting DFS
Pennsylvania’s Senate passed a sweeping gaming expansion package on Wednesday night, with legalization of daily fantasy sports and sports betting among its provisions.

Many in the state were focused on the parts of the wide-ranging bill that would generate large amounts of revenue, including online gambling and satellite casinos.

But sports betting in particular could be a game-changer, as it potentially sets up PA to offer wagering on games if New Jersey wins its Supreme Court case.

While Connecticut and Mississippi have both started down the road toward legal sports betting, this would put PA ahead of those states.

Sports betting in PA

Sports betting had long been rumored to be a moving part in the gaming package that PA is considering as it tries to fund a $2 billion shortfall in the state budget.

Finally, it appeared in the amended version of H 271 on Wednesday. There are about 20 pages dedicated to sports wagering in the bill that runs nearly 500 pages in all.

For the law to take effect, should it be passed, it would still need a change at the federal level. Current law says single-game wagering outside of Nevada sports betting is illegal. Change could come from the NJ sports betting case — set to be heard this December in the US Supreme Court — or via Congress.

Sports wagering could take place at currently licensed casino. Licensees could also provide it via an online or mobile system.

The bill mostly deals with the top level of licensure and suitability. But it also gets into some of the nuts and bolts:

  • Any licensee wishing to offer sports betting must pay a one-time fee of $10 million.
  • Gross revenue would be taxed at a rate of 34 percent, plus another two percent for a local share assessment.

DFS in PA

Another piece of the PA gaming puzzle is DFS. The bill would regulate and formally legalize paid-entry fantasy sports like DraftKings and FanDuel.

Small though it might be for Pennsylvania, the bill would be big for DFS. It would give the industry its second legislative victory in a top-1o market (joining New York). In all, 16 states have given DFS legal clarity with new laws.

The bill is one of the more extensive laws passed on the DFS front, but it still does more or less what most other laws have done to date. Namely, the bill:

  • Provides a regulatory framework, with operators overseen by the PA Gaming Control Board.
  • Sets up a licensing structure, with operators paying $50,000 for five years of licensure.
  • Taxes gross revenue at a rate of 15 percent.
  • Institutes a number of consumer protections, such as problem gaming protocols and forcing sites to segregate player funds and operational funds.

What’s next for DFS, sports betting?

After winning approval in the Senate, it faces a vote in the House, likely on Thursday. The bill actually appeared on the House floor late Wednesday night, but a vote was not taken.

If it wins approval there, it heads to the desk of Gov. Tom Wolf, who is expected to sign the legislation.

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Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.