What The NCLGS Can Model From Keystone State Online Casino Industry

Written By Corey Sharp on January 30, 2024 - Last Updated on June 3, 2024
Image showing online casino gaming with playing cards on phones along with the PA state outline and an American flag for a story about the Keystone State being a quality market to model online casino expansion in the US after.

The National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS) is forming a new committee that is going to help legislators legalize online casinos in more states across the country. NCLGS President and Minority Whip in the West Virginia House of Delegates, Shawn Fluharty, announced the news earlier this month at the NCLGS winter meetings.

The new committee, which is expected to come together over the summer, should look no further than Pennsylvania. It all starts with a strong foundation, which includes a thorough tax structure and gaming board. Because of that, PA online casinos have a proven track record for success in every area of the industry.

Keystone State online casinos feature successful tax structure

Pennsylvania is one of only six states where online casinos are legal, compared to the 38 that have sports betting. There appears to be a disconnect between the legislature and the power of online casinos. On the Safe Bet Show podcast last month, Fluharty said:

“I serve with a lot of people that struggle to silence their cell phones during a committee meeting. And now we’re trying to get them to understand how an iCasino can be on their phone. There’s clearly an education gap when it comes to those who are passing laws in this country.”

The committee is going to close that gap and hopefully implement online casinos across more states over the next several years. The NCLGS is gathering for summer meetings at Rivers Casino Pittsburgh this July, where more information on what the committee will look like should come together.

Other states can take advantage of what has worked in Pennsylvania, the most robust market of the six available.

The Keystone State has one of the most effective online casino tax structures. According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), the framework is as follows:

  • 16% on poker
  • 16% on table games
  • 54% on PA slots

The tax on slots is rather high. PGCB Director of Communications, Doug Harbach, told PlayPennsylvania:

“The Pennsylvania legislature has been aggressive in setting tax percentages on legalized gaming higher than other states. Some gaming experts therefore predicted that companies would not choose to operate in the state under those rates. That has not been the case, with most major gaming operators indeed choosing to do business here. The result is that Pennsylvania returns more tax-generated revenue to its citizens than any other gaming state.”

Pennsylvania has delivered $2.03 billion in lifetime taxes since online casinos launched in 2018.


Pennsylvania’s strong gaming board enforces regulation and fairness

The PGCB has the biggest role in regulating the online gaming industry within the state. It protects the public, along with ensuring operators are following the rules. The PGCB’s mission statement reads:

“The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, guided by the Gaming Act and supported by a dedicated professional staff, will protect the interest of the public by ensuring the integrity of legalized gaming through the strict enforcement of the law and regulations, the licensing of qualified individuals and entities, and fulfilling the objectives of legalized gaming in the Commonwealth to deliver a significant source of revenue, assist the horse racing industry, provide broad economic opportunities and enhance tourism.”

The PGCB does everything from approving gaming licenses for operators and manufacturers to testing games before they are released to the public. It has a gaming laboratory in Harrisburg that tests every game of any vertical before it debuts publicly.

Along with the gaming side, the PGCB enforces consumer protection for both online and retail gambling. The board monitors the state’s self-exclusion list, which accepted its 20,000th individual, and requires operators to implement responsible gambling tools within online apps to protect customers.

The PGCB has a reputation for being one of the most thorough gaming boards in the country.

Vast online casino options make Keystone State an attractive model

Because of the PGCB, Pennsylvania has tons of licensed online casino operators and games for players to try. As Harbach indicated in his quote, operators are flocking to the Keystone State despite the aggressive tax.

Pennsylvania has a total of 21 online casino operators, with four launching last year alone. Those were:

Fanatics Casino PA debuted last week as the fifth new operator in 13 months.

In addition to the operators, there are exactly 9,000 available slots for players, giving them tons of options.

All of those titles, including live dealer games and table games, helped the state produce $2.1 billion in revenue last year.

The NCLGS should consider Pennsylvania’s strong foundation, which has proved extremely successful.

Photo by PlayPennsylvania
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Corey Sharp

Corey Sharp is the Lead Writer at PlayPennsylvania bringing you comprehensive coverage of sports betting and gambling in Pennsylvania. Corey is a 4-for-4 Philly sports fan and previously worked as a writer and editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer and NBC Sports Philadelphia.

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