Pennsylvania Casinos Can Now Track Your Phones

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With Pennsylvania legalizing online gaming, it’s going to become much easier for punters to gamble right from their smartphones and the best part is that they can do it from, pretty much, anywhere. That’s the thing about wireless technology – it breaks down the barriers of time and distance. However, what technology can’t do is fight the legislation.


Despite the new law allowing online gambling, punters will not be able to gamble on their phones from the inside of a licensed casino in Pennsylvania.


The fine print


Pennsylvania issued the expanded gaming law only last year, and this law made it possible for gamblers to engage in their favorite pastime in all kinds of ways. However, the law also contains a clause (or rather a loophole) that prevents gamblers from participating in interactive games when inside a casino. The law allows operators to leverage the same mobile technology to determine whether their patrons are within state borders.


According to certain officials, the exclusion, which does not cover sports betting, was added to the early iterations of the legislation as a measure to protect tax revenue. At the time, the tax rate for online betting was much lower than the tax rate for casino betting.


However, the tax rate was equalized eventually by the General Assembly, bringing the tax rate to 54% for both, virtual and real slot machines. However, the new bill did not cover casinos. Tony Ricci, Chief Executive of Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment Inc., believes that legislators might have genuinely missed it.


On the contrary…


Then, there are those who believe that the exclusion for casinos was intentional. They state that it was probably done as a concession to the state’s horse-racing industry, which receives around 10% of slot machine revenue from the casinos. Last year, the industry raked in about $239 million. So, under the current law, the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Trust Fund will continue to get its share of the pie, but will not be collecting a penny from interactive gaming, and that includes online slots.


Lindsay Slader, VP of Regulatory Affairs for GeoComply, a geolocation services vendor that allows online operators to determine the exact position of online punters mentioned that it will be impossible for anyone to place online bets while they are still on the casino floor, which will ensure that the horsemen continue to get their dues.


However, the provision will have an impact only on a handful of casinos. According to statistics from Slader, just about 1% of New Jersey’s online gambling revenue can be traced to gamblers located within a casino.

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