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"Wanna Bet?" Pennsylvanians Should Think Twice

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Pennsylvanians should probably stop to think before saying, “Let’s bet on it.”  It’s illegal in the commonwealth to organize or participate in a small betting pool like ones often seen for the Super Bowl and March Madness. 

State Senator Lisa Boscola (D-Lehigh) wants to change that.  Boscola introduced legislation to legalize small betting pools, in part to save taxpayer money.

“To spend all that time [on] a full-blown investigation, a full-blown investigation, with videotaping and everything for a $120 football pool,” she said.  “It just doesn’t make any sense.”

The State’s Liquor Control Enforcement officers are the ones who investigate small betting pool violations. Boscola said her proposed legislation isn’t limited to sports pools, but does have some parameters.

“Maybe no more than 100 participants, the amount to enter the pool shouldn’t be any more than, maybe, $20, and all the money collected is given out to every participant or a bona fide charity,” Boscola said.

Boscola said she’s getting a lot of public support. She added many people, even those employed by the state, don’t know betting pools are illegal.

“We’ve done that here in Harrisburg.  We bet, and even put money on it, which is technically illegal, on when we’re going to adjourn for the year and when we’re going to adjourn at night,” Boscola said.  “We all participate in these types of small betting pools but technically it’s illegal.”

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