Pennsylvania lawmakers began hearings last month on the first of four internet gaming bills—three legalize various forms of iGaming, while one would ban it—as opposition to billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s campaign to ban iGaming surfaced in the state.
The Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee met to consider Rep. John Payne’s bill to establish a regulatory framework for online poker and casino gaming. The measure originally addressed online poker only, but was amended to include casino games.
One of the highlights was the public reaction to testimony by Las Vegas Sands Senior Vice President Andy Abboud, who appeared as a representative of LVS Chairman Sheldon Adelson to speak against all online gaming. Abboud was shouted down after delivering Adelson’s usual arguments that iGaming is a “threat to minors,” and that the largest internet companies have had “tremendous difficulty” restricting access to their websites by minors.
Rep. Tina Davis, sponsor of one of the four iGaming bills before the legislature, took the opportunity to ask Abboud about the record of Sands Bethlehem, which has been fined in each of the past five years for allowing teenagers to drink and gamble in the land-based casino. Abboud declined to answer.
Mirroring the general public’s disdain for Adelson’s campaign to ban internet gaming, the full Pennsylvania House passed a resolution last month urging the U.S. Congress to reject the Adelson-supported bill H.R. 707, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), which would impose a federal ban on all internet gaming.
Also sponsored by Payne, the measure is explicit in its criticism of RAWA.