Gambling

Pennsylvania Online Gaming Bill Filed to Remove Credit Cards

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Posted on: April 24, 2024, 12:28h. 

Last updated on: April 24, 2024, 12:28h.

Legislation in Pennsylvania seeking to amend rules regarding how players fund their online gaming accounts has been filed in the Harrisburg capital.

Pennsylvania online gambling credit card
Online gamblers in Pennsylvania can use their credit cards to fund their internet wagering accounts. Several state senators, however, are concerned online gambling on credit is only worsening the state’s consumer credit card debt problem. (Image: Shutterstock)

Casino.org reported last month on state Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) drafting legislation to change regulatory conditions for online gambling. Fontana, citing piling credit card debt among Pennsylvania consumers, said in March that gambling shouldn’t be allowed on credit.

This week, the Pennsylvania senator filed Senate Bill 1159. The statute proposes removing credit cards as an acceptable form of payment to fund online gaming accounts for lottery games, interactive slots and casino table games, sports betting, and fantasy sports.

The measure has been directed to the Senate Community, Economic, and Recreational Development Committee for review.

Consumer Safeguards

Pennsylvania’s online gaming market is among the richest in the nation. The Pennsylvania Lottery sells over $5 billion worth of tickets each year, ranking it the eighth-richest state-run lottery in the country.

Pennsylvania’s regulated iGaming platforms won over $1.74 billion from online slots and table players in 2023, while oddsmakers kept almost $459 million of the sports bets wagered, most of which were made online. Fantasy sports operators generated over $20 million in contest fees last year in Pennsylvania.

iGaming revenue has ballooned over 200% since 2020. Sportsbook win rose 142% during the same period.

Fontana thinks it’s time to make sure online gamblers in the commonwealth are keeping their betting activity within their financial means and not using credit to bankroll their play. The state senator says a pillar of irresponsible play is borrowing money to gamble, and that’s essentially what the state is allowing with the credit card permission.

Fontana cited 2022 research from Penn State University that found more than 36% of online gaming participants reported having at least one gambling problem.

Gambling and credit card debt often go hand in hand since this disorder can lead to financial problems that affect one’s ability to pay off debt,” Fontana explained.

Fontana’s SB 1159 was introduced with six cosponsors. The cosponsors included state Sens. Amanda Cappelletti (D-Delaware), Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny), Jay Costa (D-Allegheny), Jimmy Dillon (D-Philadelphia), Lisa Baker (R-Wyoming), and Timothy Kearney (D-Delaware).

Market Maturation

Penn State this month published a review of the state’s iGaming industry that found escalating participation rates last year. Researchers found that 16% of the state’s adult population gambled online in 2023 — a 5% increase on 2022.

The online gaming participation growth comes as Pennsylvanians continue to rack up debt. According to Experian, the average credit monthly card balance rollover in Pennsylvania is approaching $6,000, significantly higher than in pre-pandemic 2019 when online gaming was in its infancy.

Carrying a credit card balance is generally thought to be among the worst financial decisions a consumer can make. Credit cards come with high-interest rates, which have only been exacerbated by inflation and the U.S. Feds’ interest rate hikes.

While credit cards lure in consumers with introductory 0% APR (annual percentage rate) offers, the average credit card interest rate as of this month is nearly 25%.

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