Pennsylvania considers foray into online gaming

    Gamblers in Pennsylvania may soon be able to wager on everything from Texas hold’em to slots, all from a computer or smartphone.

    Online casino gaming is legal in only Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, but several states including Pennsylvania are considering the move as a way to support brick-and-mortar casinos, which would be able to launch their own sites.

    “I believe my job is to try to make sure that our casinos in Pennsylvania stay competitive against the surrounding states,” said bill sponsor John Payne, a Republican from Dauphin County. “When we [legalized] gaming in 2004, our only competition was Atlantic City. Now, we have casinos in Delaware, Maryland, Ohio, New York, West Virginia, so they are all around us.”

    The measure is projected to raise $120 million for the state, though the bill does not designate how those funds would be used.

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    “Not sure yet,” said Payne. “That will be something as we go forward with the hearings where that money goes.”

    In New Jersey, online gaming revenues have fallen short of initial estimates, while in Delaware, online poker earnings are down 73 percent from 2013.

    Games in Pennsylvania would be limited to adults over 21, with location restricted by a computer’s IP address or Wi-Fi location.

    Opponents argue there aren’t enough safeguards to block minors from accessing online gaming sites, and that such services only feed gambling addictions.

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