Pa. takes first steps toward regulating legal sports betting

Legal sports betting is the latest in a long line of gambling expansions Pennsylvania has undertaken over roughly the last decade. (AP)

Legal sports betting is the latest in a long line of gambling expansions Pennsylvania has undertaken over roughly the last decade. (AP)

On the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court decision last month that opened the door to sports betting in all states, Pennsylvania’s Gaming Control Board has started releasing initial regulations for the new gambling market.

Lawmakers already legalized sports betting on the state level last year in anticipation of the court’s decision.

The new rules are a first step in a regulatory rollout that’s expected to take at least all summer.

Interested parties can start sending in comments for the board to consider in mid-June, but there’s still no timeline for when casinos will actually be able to launch sports betting, said board spokesman Doug Harbach.

“There’s myriad regulations that have to be put together that’s going to control how this is done in Pennsylvania,” he said. “And, understand, outside of Nevada and Europe, there’s not a lot of templates out there that tell the gaming control board in Pennsylvania how to structure this.”

Any casino in the commonwealth can eventually apply for a license — though several have complained about lawmakers’ decision to make them pay a $10 million fee, plus a 36 percent tax rate.

Lawmakers are banking on new revenue from the expansion. But Harbach noted, nothing is certain.

“I don’t know that anybody knows — they talk about $150 billion of underground sports wagering that’s going on in the United States. How much of that is going to rise up into legalized sports wagering, it’s hard to say right now,” he said.

Any regulations rolled out by the control board are temporary. After two years, they’ll go to the state’s regulatory commission for full approval.

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