Pennsylvania made history in 2004 when it finally legalized gambling. After many failed attempts for
legislature, the approval of Act 71 ushered in a new era. Casinos since then have injected millions of dollars into the economy. And these establishments have created thousands of jobs. It seems that Act 71 was indeed a masterstroke.
And now, history is set to repeat itself with the H 271 bill.
Approved in October 2017, this new legislation legalizes Pennsylvania online gambling. Online casinos, poker sites, fantasy sports... Residents of the state can look forward to an entertaining future. The new bill will make Pennsylvania the fourth state to legalize online gambling. Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey all have an online gambling presence.
Need more information about online gambling in Pennsylvania? We have put together a topical guide that should answer the most common questions.
Can I play at legal Pennsylvania online casinos?
With the passing of the H 271 bill, online casinos can now legally operate within the state. And with this new legislation, 13 licenses for online gambling sites were authorized. While the bill passed in 2017, there are no online casinos currently active at the time of writing. The PGCB recently announced that nine casinos have applied for comprehensive licenses, however. Among those licenses were Philadelphia's famous Sugarhouse Casino; a brand who already operates an NJ online casino.
It is expected that the Pennsylvania casino sites will go live before the end of the year. And you will be legally allowed to enjoy your favorite online slots and table games at these brands.
What type of online gambling is legal in Pennsylvania?
Of all the four online gambling states, Pennsylvania has the most relaxed online gambling policy. Whereas Nevada's restrictive bill only allows for online poker, PA residents can enjoy a far greater selection. Online casino, fantasy sports
and sports betting have all received the green light. There's even a fully operational online lottery site.
When was gambling legalized in Pennsylvania?
Gambling was legalized in PA with the passing of Act 71 in 2004. When the bill passed, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board was established; this body regulates gambling within the state. The original bill only permitted very basic slot machines and a handful of slot parlors. But in 2010 blackjack and poker were added to the license. The legalization of gambling has been a major financial boon for the state. Casinos continue to report record-breaking revenues - and this is set to skyrocket with Pennsylvania online gambling.
Will Pennsylvania be the only state to offer online casino?
Nope! Online casino is also offered by New Jersey and Delaware. NJ made online casino gambling legal in 2013 while Delaware passed their bill just a year before. An often discussed topic is whether Nevada will join these other states. But the chances of Nevada online casinos are extremely slim. Part of this is due to fear; if the state allows
online casino, it could impact the revenue of their land-based resorts.
In NJ, Atlantic City welcomed two new land-based casinos this year, both of which have their own respective online sites. Many eyes in the gaming world are keeping tabs on what happens to these brands. If Ocean Resorts Online Casino and Hard Rock Casino fail, then it could be a case of the online site cannibalizing the custom of the resort. And this would nail the coffin shut for any hopes of online casinos in Nevada.
What did the H 271 bill do for gambling in Pennsylvania?
The H 271 bill is the reason online gambling is now legal in the state of PA. The bill did have an impact in other areas of statewide gambling, however. Land-based operations also received some perks from the new bill.
At the same time, Pennsylvania authorized 10 new
mini casinos to launch (also known as satellite casinos). These smaller properties are set to offer a more intimate and social gambling experience. Offering up to 750 slots and 30 table games, there's set to be plenty of choice for PA patrons.
Category 3 casinos (resort style casinos) also received several boons and relaxed rules. The number of slots the premises could offer increased as well as the removal of the necessary membership fee. VGTs were also authorized to be available at qualifying truck stops. And finally, the sale of
online lottery was legalized - something the state has already taken advantage of.
What are the taxes on online casinos in PA?
Pennsylvania is set to have some of the highest online gambling taxes in the whole of America. Land-based casinos already have to deal with some of the heftiest tariffs around; in fact, PA's tax is the highest of any state. Online slots are set to have a 54% tax rate - and this has prompted much criticism from around the gambling industry. Especially considering NJ online casinos have a tax rate on slots of just 17.5%.
Many of the arguments surrounding the tax rates involve the growth of the casinos in question. How are the businesses supposed to flourish with such small margins? The H 271 bill also sets taxes for the other permitted online gambling products. Table games and poker would be taxed at 16% - while sports betting would be taxed at 36%.
What games will I be able to play at Pennsylvania online casinos?
The 2017 gambling expansion legislation authorized the following kinds of gambling at PA internet gambling sites:
- Peer to peer games like online poker
- Online table games
Swedish game developer NetEnt
have already applied for a Pennsylvania gaming license. And this means they could be one of the first online slot providers within the state. It is also anticipated that IGT and SG Interactive will also want a presence at online casinos in PA. In the case of SG however, they already operate at the states online lottery site.