The state of Pennsylvania legalized online gambling in 2017, and it greater than likely will move forward with launching web casino games this year.
On Monday, the Division of Justice issued a brand new legal interpretation from the 1961 Wire Act in a politically-motivated work to delay states providing legal on-line gambling. The memo effectively came in the behest of Las Vegas Sands, the biggest developer of brick-and-mortar casinos on the planet, and its chairman and CEO, Sheldon Adelson.
Before the release of the poorly-argued legal opinion that does not carry with it the force of law, all indicators were pointing to a spring launch of online casino/poker within the Keystone State. That could potentially be delayed, but there’s also a solid chance that the memo will do absolutely nothing to Pennsylvania’s timeline.
Following all, the state technically started online gambling last May, using the launch of web lottery games.
Gaming regulators react
A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Gaming Manage Board issued a short statement.
“We must thoroughly evaluation and discuss the opinion to gauge any ramifications to gaming activities in Pennsylvania,” the spokesperson stated Tuesday. “Meanwhile, as Pennsylvania’s current gaming is all intrastate and legal within the borders from the state, we will continue to regulate the legal types of gaming as provided for in the Gaming Act.”
That review of the memo could potentially delay launch, but maybe not. Time will tell. The great news is that it’s clear Pennsylvania plans to fully implement the 2017 law that amended the state’s Gaming Act to legalize online casino and on-line lottery, among other types of state gambling expansion.
A supply at a business set to become involved in Pennsylvania’s online gambling business told Penn Bets on Tuesday that the state’s launch of on-line casino/poker isn’t likely to become delayed.
Businesses have currently ponied up greater than $100 million on regulatory approvals to offer interactive gaming, and Pennsylvania has no interest in giving up that money.
Another state that provides a great gauge on the influence of the opinion is Michigan. Lawmakers there are anticipated to move forward with an internet casino bill that cleared the legislature in 2018 but was surprisingly vetoed by the governor just a couple of days before he left office.
Michigan has had internet lottery offerings because 2014.
“In regards towards the new DOJ opinion, I think the tentative plan would be to have our policy and legal team take a look at it, but we will likely nonetheless move forward using the re-intro of last term’s gaming legislation,” a spokesperson for the sponsor of the legislation told MI Bets on Tuesday. “I don’t think this will delay the process on our end at all, at least not at this stage.”
While the momentum in Michigan and Pennsylvania more than likely won’t be stopped, the income that those respective industries produce could be impacted by the DOJ opinion. Same goes for the existing online gaming markets in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware. That is simply because payment processors and banks may be even warier of involvement in an business that is now opposed by the feds but supported by states. States’ rights will ultimately prevail, but that may be a ways off.
This possible unfavorable impact around the business more than most likely will not slow down the two aforementioned states. However, it could complicate things in states which have not progressed nearly as far on the online gaming problem. New York, which has inched closer to on-line poker for several years, may be one of those jurisdictions. There’s an online poker bill around the table right now in New York.