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Posted on: March 11, 2024, 10:35h. 

Last updated on: March 11, 2024, 10:51h.

Pennsylvania state Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) thinks if you can’t use a credit card to gamble inside one of the state’s 17 brick-and-mortar casinos, plastic also shouldn’t be allowed online.

Pennsylvania iGaming online casino
Pennsylvania online gamblers playing slots, table games, or placing sports bets can use credit cards to fund their accounts. At least one state lawmaker wants to limit such wagering to debit cards. (Image: Casino.org)

Fontana plans to file legislation to amend the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s regulations regarding permissible funding sources for iGaming, iLottery, online sports betting, and fantasy sports player accounts. Currently, the state’s regulated online betting platforms are allowed to facilitate player deposits via credit card transactions.

Since the expansion of gaming to include online gaming and sports wagering, there is greater access to gambling which in turn increases the number of individuals who may develop a gambling disorder. In fact, over 36% of online gaming participants in the commonwealth reported at least one gambling problem according to the 2022 Online Gaming Report produced by Pennsylvania State University in coordination with the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs as well as the state’s Gaming Control Board,” Fontana said.

Pennsylvania lawmakers authorized iGaming, sports betting, and fantasy sports through the state’s 2017 gaming expansion package. The bill additionally expanded gaming to truck stops and allowed for so-called “mini-casinos.”

Credit Check

Fontana says credit card debt in the commonwealth is piling up, with the average balance upwards of $5,600. That’s 12% higher than prepandemic levels.

Inflation is most to blame, as daily necessities remain costlier than they were in 2019, though some government officials in DC claim the burden is easing. Online gambling, Fontana contends, is also playing a part in consumers carrying larger credit card balances that are subject to exorbitant interest rates.

Online gaming and sports betting is growing exponentially, especially with young adults,” said Fontana. “At the same time, credit card debt is climbing. So, we need to make sure the greater access to gambling isn’t leading to burdensome or crippling credit card balances.”

Pennsylvania’s gaming industry, among the three richest behind Nevada and New Jersey, generated record gross gaming revenue of nearly $5.7 billion in 2023.

The record losses by players were fueled by iGaming and sports betting, which respectively accounted for $1.74 billion and $458.6 million. Both marks were new all-time highs.

States Take Action

Legal online sports betting is still relatively new in the US. The industry expanded rapidly after the Supreme Court in May 2018 struck down a federal law that had limited sports gambling to Nevada.

Today, almost 40 states have laws allowing bets on sports. Some 29 plus Washington, D.C., allow bets to be made over the internet, but only a few prohibit the use of credit cards. States that ban sports bets on credit include Iowa, Tennessee, and Massachusetts.

Escalating credit card debt isn’t a problem isolated to Pennsylvania.

At the end of 2023, the Federal Reserve reported US consumers held $1.13 trillion in outstanding credit card debt, which increased by $50 billion in the fourth quarter. Since the end of 2019, credit card debt has ballooned from $930 billion, which was then a record high.

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