Pennsylvania Gambling Expansion On Hold, For Now: Less Competition For NJ?

Pennsylvania’s attempt to institute a major gambling expansion in the state has run into an uncertain future after wranglings in the legislature this week. By default, that would be good news for casino interests and the online gambling industry in New Jersey.

What happened in PA on gambling?

The short answer? Not much, in reality.

Gambling expansions have been on the table in the statehouse for more than a year. After months on the shelf, a proposed gambling expansion resurfaced this week as a way to generate revenue for the state.

On Tuesday, two different gambling expansions were considered in the House, but both were defeated. Shortly afterward, the House also passed motions to reconsider both of those defeated amendments to a gambling bill. The amendments will apparently be considered again next month.

More on all of the legislative shenanigans here.

What’s all that mean for NJ gaming?

The wrangling in the PA statehouse leaves a murky picture for New Jersey.

If the status quo prevails, it means no increased competition across the border for New Jersey.

That goes for both land-based casinos — although that impact might be limited — and online gambling. New Jersey, of course, has legal online poker and casino games, while PA does not.

New Jersey, meanwhile, is attempting its own casino expansion, with a referendum slated for November that would allow casinos in the northern part of the state.

The PA gaming expansion does not include any plans for new casinos, but it could include an expansion of where people can play at video gaming terminals.

The online gambling part of the equation in NJ

Online gambling, should it come to PA, could have both positive and negative repercussions for New Jersey.

The positive would come should NJ ever decide it wants to share liquidity for online poker — something it has been reluctant to do with Nevada and Delaware, two states that do pool poker players.

The negative? NJ would no longer be the only major player in the East Coast for iGaming. The state, of course, is coming off a big month for online poker with the addition of PokerStars to the market. And online casino games continue to trend upwards.

Online gambling also helps attract and retain customers for land-based casinos, so it would no longer be an advantage for the Atlantic City casinos over its PA counterparts. AC saw some of the results of “poker tourism” when PokerStars held a VIP event at Resorts AC this month.

What’s next for PA gambling?

The gaming expansion package isn’t dead. But given the level of politics coming into play, it’s possible the whole package is simply scuttled, at some point.

Whatever is going to happen appears to be on tap for June. Then, New Jersey will learn what its neighbor might have planned for the future of gambling.


About the Author

Dustin Gouker

Aside from his role as editor at, Dustin Gouker writes extensively about the legal online gaming and US online poker industries, having played poker recreationally for his entire adult life. He has also covered sports for The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner, among others.