SB900 under the spotlight as industry representatives address the Economic and Recreational Development Committee
USPoker.com journalist Steve Ruddock is running a blow-by-blow account of the ongoing hearing in the Pennsylvania Senate's Economic and Recreational Development Committee (CERD) which covers, amongst other items, the expansion of online gambling and the corresponding Senate Bill 900 sponsored by Kim Ward.
According to USPoker's blog, the panel features representatives from eleven of the state's twelve casinos who were being heard in quick succession as InfoPowa went to press.
The committee had heard from Mark Juliano, Sands Bethlehem representative who went on the offensive saying online gambling would "erode" what the land industry has built. He is opposed to all three gambling expansion proposals on iGaming, tavern gaming and video gaming terminals (VGT).
Juliano was followed by Eric Schippers representing Penn National's Hollywood Casino. Schippers also opposed the VGT and slot expansion outside of casinos but views online gaming as "a vital tool" to evolve and protect what has already been built.
Parx Casino's Bob Green said: "we are not opposed to the Internet" but, "there must be safeguards," while Melissa Richards for Harrah's told the committee "Allow the Gaming Board to open new sources of revenue that will not be cannibalistic… we support online gaming."
Continuing, Sean Sullivan of Meadows Casino opposed VGT's but supports online gambling "as long as it is affordable" as does Wendy Hamilton for Rush Street Gaming's Sugarhouse and Rivers Casino.
Richard Schwartz, president of Rush Street Gaming, told the committee in his opinion internet gaming will only enhance brick and mortar casinos in Pennsylvania. Schwartz called for full casino regulation and a tax rate of no more than 15 percent.
Robert Pickus of Valley Forge shared Schwartz' views.
There was an overwhelming opposition to in-person registrations with most representatives saying potential customers will simply play on unregulated sites along with mixed opinions on what category licenses should be eligible to offer online gambling.
It is fair to say that of the twelve land operators in Pennsylvania only one — Sheldon Adelson's Sand Bethlehem – is vehemently against legalised online gambling whilst others in principle have no objection provided adequate safeguards are mandated.
But it appears that most land operators are worried about politicians setting too high a tax rate, saying that this would make viability a problem and competition against states like New Jersey difficult. New Jersey online operators pay a 15 percent tax rate, and Pennsylvanian operators advised the hearing that Pennsylvanian rates should not exceed that.
The ongoing hearing makes for interesting reading:
Online Casino News Courtesy of Infopowa