House Committee Approves Bill to Legalize Online Gambling in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The House Gaming Oversight Committee Wednesday voted to approve legislation which would legalize and regulate Internet gaming in Pennsylvania and provide strong protections for children and consumers, said Gaming Oversight Chairman John Payne (R-Dauphin), who authored the bill.

House Bill 649 would authorize the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to issue interactive gaming licenses to Pennsylvania casinos, permitting the licensee to offer interactive gaming.

“Today’s bipartisan committee vote is the first step toward ensuring Pennsylvania consumers can safely participate in interactive gaming,” Payne said. “Right now, thousands of Pennsylvanians who are playing these games online are at risk for fraud and abuse. This strong regulatory framework is necessary to protect our children and our citizens and to help shut down black market sites.”

The legislation includes safeguards that would prohibit anyone under the age of 21 from participating in the games, protect the privacy of authorized players and help minimize compulsive gambling.

“Right now, it is nearly impossible to prevent children from gambling online or protect problem gamblers,” Payne said. “Like many Pennsylvanians, I have children and grandchildren and understand how important it is to get this right. We must have a thorough set of guidelines and penalties in place to end the ‘wild west’ atmosphere that currently exists and protect authorized consumers from unscrupulous operators and fraudulent games.”

In addition to stronger safeguards, House Bill 649 would distribute revenue generated by interactive gaming to the state, counties and gambling addiction assistance programs.

“Legalizing, regulating and taxing interactive gaming in Pennsylvania should be given due consideration before any broad-based tax increases,” Payne added. “We’ve been talking about needing additional revenue for five months, and this is a viable option that would benefit the state and our communities.”

House Bill 649 also includes language that would authorize slot machines at certain international airports, expanded casino liquor licenses and off-track betting facilities. The bill now moves the full House for consideration.

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