Pa. lawmaker urges expansion into online gambling

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A Pennsylvania lawmaker is looking to online gambling to help close the state’s projected $2 billion budget shortfall.

Rep. John Payne (R-Dauphin) introduced legislation Wednesday to regulate online gaming.

Payne, the chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee, said millions of Americans, including Pennsylvanians, participate in illegal online gaming where no regulation exists. He said his bill would help curb the illegal market and boost state revenue to help fill the deficit.

Payne said a study released by a Philadelphia-based economic consulting firm named Internet gaming the largest potential new revenue source for Pennsylvania’s gaming industry. If enacted, he said the study estimates online gaming would generate approximately $120 million for the state during the first year.

“I think it’s important we consider all responsible options to boost revenue before we consider asking our taxpayers for more money to fill that deficit,” Payne said in a news release.

Payne, who also supports legalizing video poker in Pennsylvania’s bars, restaurants and taverns, said his online gaming bill would place limits on deposits and losses, prevent minors from playing, and include measures to help problem gamblers.

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