Lawmakers in Pennsylvania are inching their way towards a consensus on regulated online gambling, but the contentious issue of land-based video gaming terminals (VGT) could derail the entire process.

As it stands today, the Pennsylvania legislature is working on two different bill that both legalize online gambling in the Keystone State. The biggest difference between the two measures is that the House Bill (HB 271) includes language that would legalize the placement of VGTs at any establishment that holds a state liquor license.

This “shots and slots” component is not going over well with the state’s powerful casino interests. They aren’t interested in competing with small bars and restaurants for Keystone State gambling bucks. In its current form, the House bill would allow for up to 40,000 VGTs to be set loose in the state.

In the Pennsylvania House’s vision of online gambling, operators would pay $8 million for a license, while technology vendors would pay $2 million for the privilege of operating in the state. The Senate envisions a $5 million licensing fee for each vertical an operator chooses to participate in.

The House Bill also tackles the thorny issue of daily fantasy sports and establishes both a licensing structure and tax schedule for the industry. Operators would pay 19 percent of their revenue to the state with a $50,000 licensing fee.

Pennsylvania lawmakers are set to finalize the state’s budget by June 31, so the fate of both bills should be known by then. It’s worth noting that last year’s attempt to legalize online gambling in the state was tanked when lawmakers couldn’t find common ground on the VGT issue.


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