A number of concerns have been raised with regards to the laws governing Pennsylvania’s online gaming industry which should go live sometime before the end of the year. One of these concerns revolves around a curious exclusion – bettors in the Commonwealth will be able to place bets from every location in the state except from within any of the state’s 13 licensed casinos including Presque Isle Downs & Casino.
This does, fortunately, not apply to the state’s sports betting, something that came into play partly because sports betting became a reality just a few months ago after the U.S. Supreme Court abolished PASPA thus paving the way for nationwide sports betting. There have, of course, been some interactive gaming regulations that have been rolled out over the past few months – only temporary regulations have been laid out at the moment – but the provision that restricts online gaming to anywhere in the state other than inside the casinos remains simply because it was into the gaming laws that were passed in October last year.
GeoComply, which will be responsible for the geolocation technology that will be used when delivering gaming services in the Keystone State will be providing its technology for this as well. The company’s technology will be used to create an electronic ring-fence, so to speak, which will help in preventing players from indulging in online casino games while they are inside the casinos. Many have argued that this is a completely needless exercise that will only serve to create an extra level of unnecessary complexity for the state’s already shaky online gambling industry.
The Reason Behind It
The exclusion became more worrying after the General Assembly finally approved the bill that equalized the tax rate for interactive gaming and the brick-and-mortar casinos. This exclusion was put in place to protect tax revenue since before the bill was approved, the tax rate for online betting was much lower than the tax rate for betting at land-based establishments.
According to some sources close to the matter, the online gaming exclusion was apparently not an oversight but rather a small concession to the horse racing industry which is entitled to about 10 percent of the revenue from casino slot machines. As stipulated by the state’s gambling laws, the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Trust Fund is to continue receiving its piece of the land-based slots machine action – this does not include online games and any form or online slots.
“You won’t want anyone placing a bet on online slots while on the casino floor, and horsemen wouldn’t be getting that cut that they have been promised,” explained Lindsay Slader, the vice president of regulatory affairs for GeoComply.
While the implications of this move cannot be immediately pointed out, the effectiveness of the mechanisms that have been out in place for this purpose has been affirmed by a number of stakeholders in the gaming industry. For instance, casino executives from Pennsylvania’s 13 licensed gaming facilities say that GeoComply’s geolocation technology has a stellar record – the software is not only able to exclude physical addresses of casinos but also pinpoint the exact gaming floor within a casino.