Strange Pennsylvania Online Gambling Bill

Pennsylvania 1Only in Pennsylvania: Gamblers would not be allowed to register online to open Internet gambling accounts unless they live more than 20 miles away as the crow flies from a bricks-and-mortar casino.

Any closer, and they would have to travel to a casino and register in person, under the provisions of a Senate bill in Harrisburg calling for big changes to the state’s gambling landscape.

The goal is to give the brick-and-mortar casinos a better chance to tap into their local target audience.

It’s an unusual move.

None of the other states that have legalized online gambling – Nevada, Delaware, or New Jersey – “require a patron to travel to a casino to establish an online wagering account and to hold an active membership in the casino’s player’s club,” said Christopher L. Soriano, a partner with Duane Morris L.L.P.

The bill, introduced ahead of a Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee hearing on casino gambling Wednesday, contains a grab bag of hefty onetime fees that lawmakers hope will fill gaps in the upcoming state budget.

If every existing casino took advantage of all the expansion opportunities proposed in the bill, Pennsylvania could collect more than $300 million in fees.
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