With Fall now upon us, the odds of any state regulating online poker in 2017 - including, of course, California, remain slim. A couple of states are considering legislation to regulate online gambling but time is running out on both measures.
Pennsylvania Bill Continues to Stagnate
Pennsylvania has been considered the frontrunner to regulate online gambling for the last couple of years but this year’s attempt to pass a bill continues to stagnate. The biggest roadblock continues to be Virtual Gaming Terminals.
The State Senate passed H271 back in May but the bill stalled in the house with the main objection coming over VGTs. Opponents are concerned that VGTs will cannibalize state casinos. The matter was put on hold until after the summer recess but matters have yet to move forward.
The Senate plans to reconvene in early October and some speculate that lawmakers will work towards a compromise on VGTs. Gambling reform is just one matter that needs to be cleared up in order to set a budget for PA in 2018.
Online gambling is supposed to contribute at least $100 million towards the state budget, but gambling reform measures that include the regulation of online poker must be passed so that money can be realized.
Michigan Senator Not Giving Up on Bill
There hasn’t been much movement in Michigan since an online gambling bill was introduced back in March. Senator Mike Kowall then promised amendments to the bill in June but has yet to deliver. This left many to consider the issue dead.
However, Sen. Kowall recently told GamblingCompliance that he’s still working towards introducing those amendments. In addition, State Rep. Brandt Iden has submitted his own bill on the matter but that bill has largely been rejected by the state’s three commercial casinos.
There’s also another major roadblock that could completely derail the efforts. According to bill analysis by Drew Krogulecki of the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency, there is a chance that the bill submitted by Senator Kowall could be unconstitutional.
Based on the analysis, any changes in gambling as broad as online gambling need to be approved by a majority of voters statewide. Failing to do so would make the bill unconstitutional.
Pennsylvania is Only Hope for 2017 - But Don’t Bet On It
At this point, the only state anyone should pay attention to is Pennsylvania. They are the only state that has enough momentum to pull off a iGaming/online poker bill. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be enough momentum to get a bill to the Governor’s desk.
Granted, things could change quickly depending on whether lawmakers can come up with a compromise on the VGT debate. Such a compromise could fast-track the bill.
We give Pennsylvania a 20% chance of passing a bill at this point. Sadly, it looks like “wait until next year” yet again for online poker regulation in the United States.