Pennsylvania pursues budget solution as online casino legislation debate continues

  • Pennsylvania state legislature is on a break until October 16
  • State budget solution still to be found, hope for online gambling legislation remains

Pennsylvania’s state legislature has taken a break until the October 16 after a suitable solution to fund the state budget and fill a shortfall of more than $2 billion has yet to be finalised.

Hefty fines given to three Pennsylvania casinos for breaching several laws
Proponents of online gambling legislation still have hope that a solution may be found

That has resulted in the proposed legalisation of gambling in the state being moved to the side-lines – for now – whilst other ‘stop-gap’ solutions have been put in place until a state budget can be agreed.

Budget Shortfall

Pennsylvania’s 2016 annual budget left a $1.5 billion shortfall. The expected revenue from the online casino and gambling legislation proposal was supposed to patch about 10% of that difference.

Next year’s state budget has been reported to come in at roughly $32 billion, leaving Pennsylvania’s legislators with a 5% gap between expected revenues and expenditures, which proponents of legislation argue that online gambling would have comfortably plugged.

In touching distance

In the short term, state governor Tom Wolf has reportedly announced that he planned to borrow an estimated $1 billion from the state’s liquor-tax revenue fund to cover the pending deficit.

Late last week, Governor Wolf and lawmakers were in touching distance of agreeing a new revenue package that would have ended a month-long stalemate in the state between House Republicans and the rest of the government.

However, this failed to progress when House leadership could not garner majority votes on its revenue plan, leaving the state in somewhat of a stalemate with long term revenue issues.

What now for online gambling?

The path to online wagering legalisation in the state is, at this stage still unclear, with the priority quite naturally being the large-scale revenue plan over potential online betting legalization.

However, while there are discouraging signs for proponents in the short-term that make any legislation look unlikely, the future of online gambling in Pennsylvania is not dead just yet.

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