In the United States, the idea behind legalized and regulated online casinos is often one that is met with a lot of skepticism and doubt. After all, the number of states currently offering legalized online gambling is fewer than the fingers that exist on two hands. Having said this, you might find it downright shocking that the historically conservative state of Pennsylvania is one of the four total US states that currently legally allow for online gambling to take place.
Though states like Nevada and New Jersey made the transition into a legal online gambling landscape seamlessly, the story behind Pennsylvania becoming the 4th state to legalize gambling is a bit different.
To provide some perspective as to why Pennsylvania is considered to be a pioneer in the legalized online casino realm, you must first understand that casinos were only legalized in 2004. During that year, a bill was passed by the name of the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act. Though one of the seemingly obvious purposes of the bill was to bolster the beleaguered horseracing industry in the state, another, perhaps more important, purpose of the bill was to transform the gambling landscape in the state. The passage of the aforementioned Act meant that 14 brick and mortar facilities would be able to lay claim to real money slot machines come 2006. By virtue of the Act, the facilities were to be broken down in such a way that favored horse tracks. Of the 14 brick and mortar slot machine sites, it was mandated that 7 of them be horse tracks, 5 be standalone casinos, and the final 2 were to be resort casinos the likes of which dot the Las Vegas Strip.
In the following years, the scope of gambling was expanded bit by bit, until 2010 saw the legalization of table games. By the time the first decade of the 21st century was complete, Pennsylvania had gone from a state with next to no gambling to becoming a state that was rivaling the historic casinos in Atlantic City when it came to annual revenues. The sheer amount of money being made by the casinos in the state and, by extension, the state itself via taxes was difficult to ignore. As revenues increased, so too did the tax dollars being brought into the coffers. As the budgetary situation in Pennsylvania grew bleaker with each passing year, the idea for increased gambling seemed like a quick, proven way to the scope of casino (and online casino) gambling expanded.
If we flash forward to 2014, Tom Wolf was elected governor and the now strong push to legalize and regulate online gambling was severely threatened. It quickly became no secret that Wolf seemed to be more likely to increase taxes than he was to legalize gambling, and the belief that online casinos would have to wait until at least 2018 caught hold. Of course, this is when the aforementioned financial problems of the state come back into play.
In attempting to create a budget that would help Pennsylvania decrease its overall deficit, Republicans and Democrats were at a stand-still. Republicans, who laid claim to a majority of the legislature, did not want to raise taxes. Democrats, including the governor, on the other hand, were not willing to compromise as they saw no other way to raise more money for the state. After going back and forth for what seemed like a decade, the governor and his allies and the Republicans came to an agreement–legalized online gambling was the best way to quickly increase state revenues. It was at this point that Pennsylvania joined elite, exclusive company in the US, as the 4th state to legalize online play of slots, table games, and so much more.
As is the case with New Jersey, any person wishing to gamble online in Pennsylvania will need to be at least 21 years of age. Perhaps the biggest rule regarding online gambling in Pennsylvania has to do with where, exactly, you do your gambling. The internet is looked at as an entity that is not governed by state boundaries, but the reality of the matter is that your location will be tracked when you attempt to gamble at Pennsylvania online casinos. To make a long story short, if you are so much as a few feet outside of the state, the state’s online casinos will be rendered inaccessible.