Two prominent Pennsylvania lawmakers are urging the PA Gaming Control Board to resist calls to limit the number of online gambling websites (or “skins”) a licensed operator can launch.
The state is looking to start the online gambling license process next month and launch iGaming later this year. The issue of skins, meanwhile, remains unresolved.
No limits on online gambling skins?
The two lawmakers — Reps. Rosita Youngblood and Jason Ortitay — were instrumental in crafting the 2017 gaming law PA enacted, particularly the online gaming component.
“As the prime sponsor of the law, I am compelled to advise you that there was never an intent to limit the number of skins,” the letter states. “To the contrary, the legislation I drafted specifically contemplates ‘skins’ in the context of plural and doesn’t use the word in its singular context.”
The letter goes on to say:
“I urge you to consider the notion that limiting skins would decrease competition and protect only the brands of a few interests. Instead, we should look to increase competition, increase tax revenue and improve the quality of interactive gaming products in Pennsylvania, while at the same time improving customer experience by allowing for multiple skins per license.”[…]
“The Board should not limit the numbers of skins, nor place conditions on how access to the skins occurs. This will increase revenue for the Commonwealth at a pivotal time, instead of limiting competition or placing an undue burden on how a patron obtains access to a skin.”
Youngblood and Ortitay also caution that not only would a restriction on skins cost the state revenue, but since it would go against the intent of the legislation, “limiting the number of skins in any regard would be an unconstitutional usurpation of the specific powers and authority of the legislative branch of Pennsylvania government.”
Why is this an issue
As Online Poker Report has reported, at least two Pennsylvania casino operators — Parx and Hollywood Penn National — have been actively lobbying the PGCB to limit each online operator to a single skin.
Meanwhile, industry groups and New Jersey online casino operators have pushed back against Parx’s and Penn National’s calls for a strict limit on skins.
In a letter sent to the PGCB, the pro-online gaming lobby group iDEA Growth explained that limiting skins would have multiple negative implications on the yet-to-be-launched industry.
- The firsthand experience in New Jersey shows that the capability to offer multiple skins has grown the market and maximized revenue.
- The restriction of skins is anti-competitive and would provide the consumer with an inferior product and user experience.
- The allowance of multiple skins leads to more competition and innovation among stakeholders.