PGCB Says Gambling Expansion Moving Forward Even After New DOJ Opinion

Written By Jessica Welman on January 16, 2019 - Last Updated on December 21, 2023
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The latest Department of Justice opinion on the Wire Act has people on alert. However, Pennsylvania is standing pat on its plan to move forward with online gambling in 2019.

Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) Communications Director Doug Harbach told PlayPennsylvania the group would certainly consider the new opinion; however, the group seems pretty comfortable with what the state is offering:

“We must thoroughly review and discuss the opinion to gauge any ramifications to gaming activities in Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, as Pennsylvania’s current gaming is all intrastate and legal within the borders of the state, we will continue to regulate the legal forms of gaming as provided for in the Gaming Act.”

Diving into the PGCB statement

Needless to say, there is a certain amount of ambiguity in Harbach’s statement. Namely, it is unclear whether PGCB is comfortable with everything legislated in the 2017 gambling expansion act or simply what has already launched.

With casinos already conditionally licensed to offer online sports betting, casino and poker, one could assume that falls under his definition of current.

Nonetheless, there are still no finalized regulations for online gambling. This leaves room for the group to reassess if the regs adequately address any issues the new opinion raises. That way, PGCB can be certain that elements of online gambling are in order not to run afoul of the Wire Act.

Here are some examples of things they will need to take a closer look at:

  • Payment processing
  • Server locations
  • Online poker compacting with other states
  • Live dealer games 

The buzz out of Pennsylvania is that launch will move forward as planned for interactive gaming. Take that with a grain of salt though, as delays have already plagued this process. Moreover, PGCB already has a ton of work on its plate testing and launching retail sportsbook, VGTs, online betting apps and interactive gaming.

Adding in a thorough review of the Wire Act opinion is just another element with the potential to slow things down.

Online lottery still a question mark

PGCB issued a statement, but PA Lottery still has not said if its online lottery offerings are in jeopardy under this new opinion.

What Pennsylvania’s online lottery does have going for it is that none of its offerings are explicitly out of state.

Keno and virtual games are exclusive to PA, as are instant games on the PA iLottery site. Other states, like Michigan, sell tickets to multistate games like Powerball, which is something that is highly questionable under the new opinion, should the DOJ choose to enforce it.

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Jessica Welman

Jessica Welman has been a key voice in the legal betting industry since the repeal of PASPA in 2018. She contributed to and formerly managed several Catena Play-branded sites including PlayPennsylvania, PlayTenn and PlayIndiana. A longtime poker media presence, Jess has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and served as the managing editor for

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