A gamble worth taking – law would make small pool betting legal in Pennsylvania

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Super Bowl XLIX is this Sunday and many people are picking who they think will win it all. But, do you have a friendly betting pool at the office or with your friends? If so, what you're doing is illegal under state law. But one state senator is trying to change that.

"I'm very surprised!" said Tim Holt, who just moved to Pennsylvania from Maryland.

Holt says this state is behind the curve when it comes to small pool betting.

"I think it's ridiculous. I mean everybody has been doing it for many years many states acknowledge it now... don't think anything of it and what's a little bet between friends when they can sell lottery tickets and they can have all these other things but a friend can't make another bet with another friend," said Holt.

Last year a bill passed the legislature that allows small betting pools for volunteer organizations and other non-profit groups. But that's where the line's drawn. Nobody else is allowed to take part. Just last week, State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement officers raided three different fire companies in Northampton County and cited them for offering Super Bowl pools. Those fire companies are following the state law that was enacted last year. But Senator, Lisa Boscola, says state police are ignoring the new law because it's contrary to federal law. Boscola says the whole thing is frustrating.

"So you can go buy several lottery tickets and spend hundreds of dollars buying a lottery ticket, you can go into a casino and plop down thousands of dollars but oh my god it's illegal if you put 2 dollars on a super bowl pool... that's insane," said Sen. Boscola.

To prevent situations like what happened in Northampton County, Boscola wants to decriminalize small betting pools and allow you to take part in Super Bowl pools with your friends. She says the bill has bipartisan support.

"I'm trying to decriminalize this whole activity whether it's in your office or in your home or in a club or a tavern or anywhere you go," said Sen. Boscola.

People we spoke with hope Boscola's bill passes before next year's big game kicks off.

1 Comment

  • OneMan'sOpinion

    Wow, you got the whole recreational pot reasoning in the same sentence as “everybody has been doing it for many years.” One could say the same thing for 18-21 year-olds drinking alcohol. However, in all three cases, “everybody” is not correct. Replace it with “a fairly significant percentage of people”.

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