There are currently four states that have legalized online poker in the U.S. and as many as ten states currently considering legalizing online poker. Pennsylvania will definitely not feature within those ten states as the state seriously considers imposing a blanket ban on all forms of online gambling including online poker.
State Representative Thomas Murt is actively campaigning to ban all forms of online gambling and has currently introduced a new bill for the legislature to review. The new bill is called the House Bill 1013 and has already gained the approval of seven sponsors including Murt. If the bill gains approval, then it would prevent the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board from “promulgating” all regulations and rules that would encourage any form of online gambling.
House Bill 1013 is two pages in length and has a number of interesting observations. The bill states that
No individual or entity shall solicit, invite, collect or accept cash or any other form of currency through the Internet for the purposes of wagering or betting. No individual or entity shall organize, or cause to be organized, any type of gambling event that is held over the Internet.
Governments who ban online gambling and online poker are forced to deal with the underground or illegal online gambling industry. These underground websites operate under the radar of the authorities but tend to have a large following of online poker players. Hence, if a state government decides to ban online gambling they will have to encourage strict regulations to prevent the rise of illegal gambling websites.
The HB 1013 proposes a rather small fine of $300 for first time offenders and then a $600 fine with a possible 3 day jail sentence for second time offenders. Any offence after this could be regarded by the authorities as a third degree misdemeanour and carry a strong punishment including a $2,000 fine and up to 12 months in jail.
The bill has been submitted to the House Gaming Oversight Committee for review and will most likely be thrown out as the review committee is made up of individuals who are more in favour of legalizing online gambling than issuing a blanket ban. We reported in 2014 Pennsylvania could earn Around $129 million. The chairman of the review committee is State Representative John Payne who has also issued a bill pushing for the legalization of online gambling. The Payne bill was reviewed by the committee last week and could very well be approved, provided all objections are addressed by Payne and his team.