UPDATE: HB 649 will not be voted on this year as part of any state budget deals. Click here to read more about this early Christmas present for Pennsylvania families.
State lawmakers are over five months overdue in passing a budget yet are rushing to vote on expanding gambling beyond casinos and onto computer screens and smartphones across Pennsylvania. There are many dangers with HB 649 yet they are planning to vote on this as soon as tomorrow in a rare Sunday vote! Please contact your State Representative telling them this is a bad idea.
Some elected officials are trying to add Pennsylvania as only the fourth state to legalize and promote state-sponsored online gambling to its citizens.
New Jersey is one of the three states that tried this. In 2012, Gov. Chris Christie initially estimated $200 million in casino tax revenue for the first year of online gambling.
The sad headline in 2014: Christie administration admits it overplayed hand on online gambling – “drastically overestimating the amount the state would bring in during the first year.”
Also in 2014, four brick-and-mortar casinos in New Jersey shut down. NJ Congressman Frank LoBiondo says online gambling has been “a disaster for my state.”
Some state officials are trying to sell the same idea to Pennsylvanians. And their estimates are even higher than Gov. Christie’s – pointing to wild estimates as high as $307 million in casino revenue from online gambling in the first year. Why would it turn out to be any different than New Jersey?
Not only that, but an amendment was added to allow video gambling in neighborhood taverns, clubs and restaurants where alcohol is sold. So if the proposed HB 649 is passed, Pennsylvania mixes the most addictive form of gambling with places pushing the sale of alcohol.
How addictive is video gambling? In the state of Oregon, regular lottery players lose an average of $106 per year. That dwarfs in comparison to regular video poker and slots players, who lose an average of $2,564 every year. Pennsylvania government-backed gambling on any computer or smartphone would only increase the regularity of play – and losses; especially in taverns and clubs preying on those consuming alcohol at the same time.
How do we prevent minors from gambling? HB 649 states no one over 21 is allowed to gamble online. But what prevents a minor from accessing it? Are there electronic bouncers that will jump out of the screen and check their ID? It’s one thing to allow gambling in casinos but it’s getting far too easy for minors to gamble when it can be done on any smartphone.
Do we really care for gambling addicts? You’ve probably seen the state-sponsored ads that ask ,”Got a gambling problem?” How does online gambling help this situation? In 2007, at the start of casino gambling in Pennsylvania, the casino self-exclusion list for PA totaled 182. That list has now grown to well over 7,000. What would stop a gambling addict from accessing online sources of gambling? And do you think the rate of gambling addiction will go up or down by bringing state-sponsored online gambling to Pennsylvania?
There are too many question marks surrounding this expansion of gambling in Pennsylvania. That’s why your State Lawmaker should vote NO on any government-sponsored online or video gambling.
A VOTE IS EXPECTED SUNDAY DECEMBER 13TH – Tell your elected officials to oppose any state-sponsored online gambling for Pennsylvania. Click here to email.