August 10, 2018 by

Pennsylvania Looking for Tax Revenues through Online Gaming

Whether because of foresight or because of purely objective necessity, Pennsylvania is in the forefront of states that are looking to casino gaming both at land based casinos and online for increased tax revenues.  The state needs to raise tax revenues because the state budget walks a tightrope every year and the tightrope continues to get thinner and thinner.


Bonuses Abounding

One of the best ways to bring in new gamers especially to online casinos—where online gaming is legal—is by offering bonuses.  Online casinos can and do offer bonuses almost every day of the week.  Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are the time for weekend bonuses.  Monday is the back to work bonus day.  Wednesday is mid-week.

Bonuses are big on holidays, on players’ birthdays, and for any reason at all.  All players need to do is to enter the correct bonus codes and make a deposit and the matching deposit is theirs.  Some online casinos offer a no deposit bonus as well.

Pennsylvania Leading the Way

The United States government, in 2006, made it very difficult for online casinos to allow Americans to gamble there.  The law is known by its acronym, UIGEA.  The law made it illegal for banks, credit card companies, and any other financial institution to transfer money to an online casino in the name of a gamer.

Most online casinos left the American market.  Some stayed, using ewallets as the conduits for deposits and withdrawals.  Now, for complicated legal reasons but primarily because the states that are pushing for legalized online gaming desperately need to raise more tax revenue, states are being allowed to legalize online gambling within their jurisdiction and to regulate said online gambling as they see fit.

Pennsylvania is far ahead of almost all other states in this area.

Play Pennsylvania

The state has a dedicated site that seeks to explain in very simple terms everything a new online casino gamer may need to know before signing up.  The site is called Play Pennsylvania.   Here are a few of the most important things the site tells new players.  We have added additional information that the site has left out.

  • You can shop around for an online casino just as you would shop around for clothing, a car, or any other product you would like to buy.  You can play at an online casino through your internet server; you do not have to download the casino to your hard drive.  So, you can sign up to play at any number of casinos and choose the one(s) you like the most.
  • Every casino has terms and conditions that govern its operation.  Some casinos write their terms and conditions in inscrutable language while others make them much easier to understand.
  • The state site lists all the information you’ll need to send the casino in order to sign up.  One such datum is gender and as of now there are only two genders recognized by the Pennsylvania online gaming board.  In the past, many players have objected to needing to send so much information to the casino.  In fact, this is a good thing because it helps the casino be absolutely sure that when you withdraw money, the money will go to the correct person.
  • You need to be physically located in Pennsylvania to play at a state regulated online casino.  The state and the casino will read the IP address of your computer and they’ll know if you’re out of the state at the time.
  • You also have to be over 21 years of age to play.  At this time, the legal penalty for misrepresenting your age is undetermined.
  • Play Pennsylvania very clearly explains what the play through requirement is and how to calculate it.  There is also an explanation of why the credit towards your play through requirement is different for different games.  This explanation is a few paragraphs below the paragraph in which the play through requirement is first discussed.
  • The site also very clearly explains the concept of theoretical losses.  In short, a deposit bonus will usually end up as a net loss to the payer but the loss would be spread over a much longer playing time.
  • Pennsylvania will allow its online casinos to advertise through “mainstream” advertising media such as newspapers, magazines, television, radio, and billboards.
  • At the present time, Pennsylvania has the largest population of all states that are as far advanced in allowing and regulating online casinos.  This situation will not last long as New York is rapidly working on its own laws and regulations.
  • As big as Pennsylvania is, it has only 12 land based casinos.  That means that the online casino market has vast potential for increasing state revenues.
  • The tax rate the state is imposing on online casinos is quite high.  Only time will tell if it is too high.  There is a famous economic theory propounded by Nobel Prize winning economist Arthur Laffer that says that a lower tax rate actually often causes an increase in tax revenue because it gives people the incentive to do business. 

Sports Betting

Online casino gaming was at the forefront of the talk about allowing online gambling long before the US Supreme Court heard arguments on PASPA, the law that effectively outlawed sports betting in the US except in four states where sports betting in some form was already legal.

So, Pennsylvania, like most states, is a bit behind in getting sports betting going but the marriage of sports betting and online casinos is seen as an inevitability in the state.

Because Pennsylvania is such a big state with only 12 land based casinos, it stands to reason that sports betting will go through online casinos.  Already we have seen that internationally known online sports betting sites are joining with US land based casinos to run the casinos’ sports betting arrangements.

A situation similar to this is likely to come to Pennsylvania in the near future.