The state of Pennsylvania’s has become one of the biggest states for gambling in the entire United States This is a success for the state and its residents, one that wouldn’t have been possible without the change in laws. Much like many other American states, gambling laws have changed over time. Although many states now permit gambling it was not always that way.
The History of Gambling in Pennsylvania
Along with the rest of the United States, gambling in Pennsylvania has been evolving and changing recently. Although land-based casinos have enjoyed a legal status since 1931, it was not until sports betting was legalised by the federal government in 2018 that it was then left to each individual state to implement legislation on their own territories.
Pennsylvania has a reputation for being a stable place with conservative values, though constantly evolving and changing to suit the needs of its residents. This ethos fitted well with their comparatively early approval of land-based casinos since 2004. Although regulated and restricted in number to 14, many venues sprung up to take advantage of the relaxed rules.
The venues in operation today number 12 and it has not all been straightforward for them to build and maintain success in the state. In 2005 the government faced a court challenge brought by opponents of the legislation which they eventually won. 2007 saw the introduction of laws enabling residents to vote on the permitted locations for future casinos. It was agreed by city attorneys that residents were not given the voice they were promised, leading to a change in the law correcting this.
From this stumbling start, Pennsylvania has developed an enviable gambling industry and is home to venues like Parx Casino that offer more than 3000 slot machines alongside 165 gaming tables.
This success means you would need to travel to Nevada to find bigger. With the state taxing table games at 14%, you may be surprised to find that Pennsylvania’s 55% slot tax is one of the highest in the USA.
Although we often think of lotteries as being a long-running form of gambling, it was not until 2017 that Pennsylvania permitted them. Since gambling was made legal in the state in 2017, online casinos in PA have been hugely successful. They now profitably contribute to the state with a minimum of 27% of proceeds being required to be given towards the funding of public programs.
The prize fund must comprise a minimum of 40% of the proceeds. Winners are subject to paying 3.07% of their win in personal state income tax and a further 24% in federal taxes. This is simplified for the player where tax from winnings above $5000 is automatically withheld and paid directly to the government.
Online And Sports Betting
Pennsylvania also gave a boost to the industry by legalising online gambling with the introduction of the Expanded Gaming Act. This new legislation permitted online slots, poker and table games to be played from computers and handheld devices. Of course, this is good business for the state that has some of the highest gambling taxes in the United States.
With the legalisation of sports betting in 2018 by the federal government, Pennsylvania was one of the early adopters of legislation that would see Hollywood Casino become the first venue in Pennsylvania to take a sports bet.
With every Pennsylvanian company holding a casino licence given eligibility to apply for a sports betting licence, this has broadened the industry’s appeal and given rise to a new breed of customer. Again the lucrative trade is bolstering state revenues with large percentages of winnings and government fees charged to the casino operators.
Pennsylvania is not a state for half-hearted casinos, with the application process for a licence costing $10 million and no guarantee of success or a licence at the end of it. Even if successful and a licence is granted, all revenue will then be subject to a 36% tax. You would be forgiven for thinking this would make Pennsylvania a poor choice for gambling and casino companies, but many companies are very successful and return large revenues. This is a testament to the popularity of gambling and casinos within the state.
Unusually, Pennsylvania legalised fantasy sports betting alongside its regular cousin. The rules applied differ and do not require an operator to have a local partner. With the cost of a five-year licence being $50,000 and the tax fixed at 15%, this has proved an area of strong growth for the state.
With the recent announcement that the state’s revenue from gambling has risen above $5 billion, it is clear now that Pennsylvania is now one of the United States’ most significant gambling hubs. Pennsylvania has come a long way and the conservative state now makes an exciting place to visit for sports and casino betting.
The Effect Of Future Changes
With betting regulations seeing worldwide attention, the possibility of changes cannot be overlooked. With regular reviews expected, things could change, but Pennsylvania itself will be keen that any changes do not upset the revenue stream generated by the gambling and casino industry.
Laws in this area are constantly evolving alongside the implementation of new technology within the gambling industry. Constant change and evolution mean that for the future to be safe and well regulated the state will need to monitor the industry carefully before implementing any considered change.
Gambling needs happy customers, so as with many industries the legislation will likely support customers further and lead to greater trust in the industry. This could be especially useful for new forms of gambling and gaming like loot boxes and microtransactions, where Pennsylvania like the UK will face decisions on the legislation needed to ensure a safe industry. Its success as a gambling and casino state depends on its ability to implement an evolving law system in harmony with its growing customer base.
We know that places such as the UK have strict gambling legislation that works and so places like Pennsylvania and other states in the US should have no problem following suit – and allowing gambling to take place in a safe and responsible way for everyone.