Pa. considers online gambling to build up revenues

     In 2010, people play recently legalized table games on a test day at the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem in Bethlehem, Pa. Owners of the casino object to proposals to offer online gaming in Pennsylvania. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

    In 2010, people play recently legalized table games on a test day at the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem in Bethlehem, Pa. Owners of the casino object to proposals to offer online gaming in Pennsylvania. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

    Pennsylvania lawmakers are toying with the ideal of allowing online bets as a way to boost state tax revenue.

    Making online gambling legal could yield $68 million its first year for the state, and $110 million annually in later years, according to policy consultants who assessed Pennsylvania’s gambling landscape for the state Legislature.

    “We don’t include any license fees in there,” Econsult Solutions director of research Adam Ozimek told a Senate panel. “And really, those revenues should be thought of as illustrative because we don’t know what the tax rates are going to be.”

    Stephen Mullin, the firm’s president, said legalizing online gambling isn’t expected to eat into the profits of brick-and-mortar casinos.

    “It’s a different audience out there,” Mullin said. “Not to say that there isn’t somebody who plays I-games and also goes to a casino, but it is a very different audience.”

    A number of managers from Pennsylvania’s 12 operating casinos say they’d be fine with online gambling as long as it were offered exclusively by existing casino licensees. But the owners of the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem are opposed. The casino is part of the global operation headed by Sheldon Adelson, who has launched a national campaign to outlaw online gambling.

     

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.