A Pennsylvania esports bill began working its way through the House on March 28. Legalizing esports through HB733 would likely complete the commonwealth’s already robust online gambling marketplace.
Today, state Rep. Ed Neilson, D-Philadelphia, talked to Bonus about his esports bill.
We’ve gotta get on this wagon before we miss the ship.
As it is, Pennsylvania gamblers can place bets on online casino, poker, and sportsbook sites. The Keystone State can also boast of being the top revenue-producing US iGaming jurisdiction. In February, Pennsylvania online casino and poker gambling resulted in $162.3 million in gross gaming revenue (GGR).
However, adding esports wouldn’t augment the online casino and poker portion of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) revenue report.
That’s because the esports bill introduced by Neilson amends the sports betting law. As such, esports has the online sportsbook tax rate of 36% – unless that changes as it continues through the Pennsylvania General Assembly process, he said. The proposed legislation also says bettors must be at least 21, even though esports players can be 18.
Neilson told Bonus:
This is a form of gambling, you want it to have the same protection and regulation.
Also, legalizing esports betting may not immediately pay off for Pennsylvania, considering the only US operator lasted for six months in New Jersey. Vie.gg closed up shop on Nov. 1, 2022.
However, brands that may accept the challenge and enter the legal US marketplace include Entain’s Unikrn and Ontario’s Rivalry.
Neilson believes that once online gambling operators know the option is available, they’ll approach him about entering the Pennsylvania marketplace.
He told Bonus:
I have not consulted one gaming company as of yet on this legislation. I’m sure once it starts moving, they’ll be here.
Pennsylvania’s Legislative Session Lasts All Year
Neilson first discussed a 2023 Pennsylvania esports bill on Jan. 27, when he sent a memo to “all House members” asking them to consider the matter.
He told Bonus today that the circulation memo’s language was two years 0ld – from when he first asked lawmakers to legalize esports betting. So the outdated memo mentions plans for an esports complex that has since been modified and an esports team that’s since moved to Seoul.
However, Neilson tells Bonus, he talked to his colleagues about those changes, and he still believes esports betting is “a perfect fit for Pennsylvania.”
It seems that four of his House colleagues from Philadelphia and nearby suburbs may agree, sharing his excitement about the form of online gambling.
On March 28, they joined him in introducing HB733:
- Jose Giral, D-Philadelphia
- Stephen Kinsey, D-Philadelphia
- Joe Ciresi, D-Montgomery County
- Barry J. Jozwiak, R-Berks County
No meetings are yet scheduled on the bill that sits in the House Gaming Oversight Committee. However, Neilson tells Bonus that HB733 doesn’t need to move to the Senate until Dec. 30, 2024, in order to pass during his term.
Plenty of time.