Pennsylvania Lawmakers Waffle on Online Poker Bill
In a chaotic turn of events, those same lawmakers turned around and immediately voted to reconsider the bill at a later date.
The confusion stemmed from an earlier decision by a committee to amend an existing online poker with provisions to expand video gambling terminals (VGTs) in the state.
Discussions were further clouded by lawmakers who weren’t exactly clear on the differences between VGTs (which are standalone machines in bars and airports) and online gambling (which is done from a person computer or mobile device) and the companies that operate them.
One lawmaker event went so far as saying that he was voting against VGTs because he didn’t want, “Main Street” to have to support Wall Street. In his view, a barroom VGT adds more value to the community than a regulated online casino.
Other Keystone lawmakers were concerned that legalizing online poker would spell disaster for problem gamblers who might max out credit cards while indulging in their vice. That notion was quickly quashed by Rep. George Dunbar who, “…wanted to address some things that not everybody understands.”
According to Cardplayer.com, Dunbar went on to point out that option is already available to gamblers of all kinds in Pennsylvania saying:
You can gamble online in Pennsylvania right now. Maybe not in this building because of firewalls, but I guarantee you, I can walk out of this building and play poker tonight at the Radisson Hotel. I can use a credit card to do it. What we are providing in this bill is consumer protection.
While it’s not exactly clear when the Pennsylvanie legislature will take up the issue of online poker again, it seems clear that VGTs will not be part of the conversation when they do.
Pennsylvania is currently America’s second largest regulated gambling market, behind Nevada, but ahead of New Jersey.