Pennsylvania legislator introduces bill directing state to join MSIGA online-poker compact

Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: March 07, 2024 09:24 PST

Pennsylvania State Representative George Dunbar (R-Westmoreland County) has introduced a measure directing the state to join the Multi-State Internet Gaming Association (MSIGA) and allow Pennsylvania's online-poker players to be pooled with those from other MSIGA member states.

Rep. Dunbar introduced House Bill 2078 on Tuesday after issuing a call for co-sponsors last month. HB 2078 was immediately assigned to the House Gaming Oversight Committee, where it will receive initial consideration. The bill, if passed and signed into law, would direct the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to enter negotiations with MSIGA and join the compact.

Dunbar's bill found five other co-sponsors for its initial introduction. HB 2078's four Republican co-sponsors are Aaron Bernstine, Barry J. Joswiak, Mike Cabell, and Ryan Warner. Democratic Rep. Ed Nielsen also signed on to Dunbar's measure, which is likely to receive bipartisan support.

Five other US states -- New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware, Michigan, and West Virginia -- have authorized MSIGA participation. However, player pooling remains an in-flux process, and at the present time, only New Jersey and Nevada are fully pooling players, with Michigan a partial participant. West Virginia has yet to have any regulated poker sites go live, rendering its MSIGA authorization moot to date, and Delaware's player pooling is on hiatus while the state transitions to a new platform hosted by Rush Street Interactive.

Dunbar touts shared liquidity, offers comparison to multi-state lottery

In his memorandum sent to other Pennsylvania House members asking for their co-sponsorship, Dunbar noted that Pennsylvania previously was the largest regulated US state in terms of online-poker revenue, but was recently passed by less-populous New Jersey, a long-time MSIGA participant. Dunbar noted how shared liquidity produces overall growth, as has happened with the US's successful multi-state lotteries.

Dunbar's memo to fellow legislators reads as follows:

"In the near future I plan on introducing legislation to direct the PA Gaming Control Board to request membership for Pennsylvania in MSIGA, the Multi State Internet Gaming Agreement. This membership will allow PA on-line poker players to compete with those in other MSIGA states (New Jersey, Michigan, Delaware and Nevada).

"This action, also known as 'shared liquidity', is critical to a healthy on-line poker system. Much like what we have seen with multistate lottery contests, joining MSIGA will mean more players in the overall player pool. This makes for bigger tournaments allowing operators to offer bigger guarantees.

"Since its inception, Pennsylvania has been the leader nationally in on-line poker revenue. Recently New Jersey, using the benefits of MSIGA, has surpassed us.

"Join with me in co-sponsoring this legislation so that we may provide our poker players with a healthier system, more choices and return Pennsylvania to the top of the list in on-line poker revenue."

No hearings or votes on HB 2078 have been scheduled to date.