A decision handed down Monday from the U.S. Supreme Court clears the way for states to legalize betting on pro and college sports.
Doug Harbach, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, says state lawmakers were counting on this outcome from the Supreme Court.
Harbach says there’s no firm timeline when the first legal sports wagering will be allowed in Pennsylvania. He says at this point, it doesn’t look like any additional legislation is needed.
Harbach says the gaming control board is closely examining the court’s decision before announcing the state’s plans. Once given the go-ahead, internet-based sports betting would be offered through casinos in Pennsylvania.
With a rough framework already in place, bettors in Pennsylvania could begin placing wagers on sporting events in the next couple of months.
Local lawmaker Rob Matzie, who represents parts of Beaver and Allegheny counties in the Pa. House of Representatives, said he would like to see the state get sports betting up and running as soon as possible.
“Best case scenario is the start of the NFL season, I’d say end of the year at the latest,” Matzie said in an interview with Butler Radio. “We’re fortunate that the legislature put the legislation together. Now it’s up to the gaming control board to follow through with accepting petitions from the casinos. That could happen as soon as the next 30 to 60 days.”
The current framework in place allows for wagering on professional, as well as college sporting events at a casino, an OTB, or online. Matzie feels adding legal regulations and government oversight to what used to be an illegal activity could improve the safety and well-being of participants. This decision could also add a large amount of potential revenue to the state budget from $10 million licensing fees, a 34 percent cut of all the action and an additional 2 percent for local host communities.
According to Matzie, football is expected to be the big money-maker but Pennsylvania could follow a model currently in operation in Europe with technology a key part of the equation.
“The NFL is still king,” he said. “What they do in Europe with soccer is you have opportunities to actually bet on specific plays, specific kicks, etc. I envision that happening. This legislation also includes i-gaming so you’d be able to use your tablet. You wouldn’t have to physically go into the casino to do it.”
Matzie worked to ensure that language from his sports-betting bill was included in gaming legislation Gov. Wolf signed last year so that the state would be competitively positioned to offer sports betting if and when it became legal, according to his team.
The entire interview with Rep. Matzie can be heard Wednesday on The Sports Sound Off with Tyler Friel tonight after the local news at 5 p.m. on WBUT 1050 AM.