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This week the state of Pennsylvania officially legalized online gambling as Governor Tim Wolf signed a bill into law that legalizes the activity while also expanding other forms of betting.
House Bill 271 was signed into law, and will allow for online casino games and poker to be offered, providing punters in the Keystone State with regulated sites to play at. The state will charge $10 million for a license, with slots being taxed at a rate of 54%. Table games and online poker will be taxed at a rate of 16%. The bill will also allow for online lottery tickets to be sold online, and 10 mini casinos will also be permitted to be opened. Betting terminals are now also permitted to be offered at truck stops.
While the bill is being lauded by many, some in the gaming industry are slamming the high tax rate. Penn National's Chris Sheffield said, "Obviously we are pleased that this has finally moved but 54% for online slots is the highest tax rate on the planet. It's completely unworkable and the only reason one might buy a licence is to then begin an active lobbying effort to reduce the rate to where one might actually make money on the operation."
"We've run the numbers many times, and just can't see how they work given investment in licence fees, setup costs and ongoing costs. I really can't see anyone making a return unless they are in for the very long-term and its likely some early operators will bail out at some stage as has happened in new markets before."
With the passage of the law, Pennsylvania joins Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware as being the only states that have legalized at least one form of online betting. We'll keep readers abreast as we learn more about the date the games go live.