First Three Pennsylvania Online Licenses Approved

First Three Pennsylvania Online Licenses Approved

Preparedness can pay off. That seems to be the case for three casinos in Pennsylvania. Parx Casino, Mount Airy Casino Resort, and Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack have been approved for online gaming licenses just one month after submitting their applications.

What seemed like a hurried process, with sizeable applications containing dozens of documents submitted in the last days of the application window set by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, now appears to be moving at a quicker pace.

And this is a positive sign for the online gaming process in general. Those anxiously awaiting the launch of internet poker and other games in Pennsylvania have endured a painfully slow system thus far, which started with years of attempts to pass legislation and then consisted of months of developing regulations and preparing for licensing. Just past the midpoint of 2018, it seems the rest of the path to online gaming may not be as long as many anticipated.

Three Approvals

On August 15, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced that its Board for Interactive Gaming held its first public meeting, which resulted in the awarding of three interactive gaming licenses.

The first of the three meetings in August – the second and third are set for September and October – considered three casino operators that submitted applications for all three types of licenses. Instead of paying $4 million for each of the three, they were able to pay $10 million to offer all three types of online gaming, which will be:

–Non-peer-to-peer interactive games which simulate slot machines

–Non-peer-to-peer interactive games which simulate table games

–Peer-to-peer interactive games which simulate poker

And with that, the Board announced approvals for Chester Downs and Marina (operating Harrah’s Casino Philadelphia), Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment (operating Parx Casino), and Mount Airy (operating Mount Airy Resort Casino). Each company now has 60 days to pay their $10 million licensing fees.

Knowns and Unknowns

There is little known at this point except that the three approved casinos have every intention of offering online table games and slots, as well as online poker. The fees are too high to apply for and obtain licenses for all three types without having some sort of plan to operate all of them.

It is known that Harrah’s has a natural partnership with WSOP via Caesars. And Mount Airy just announced its partnership with The Stars Group last week, so online poker will be available there on the PokerStars platform. However, Parx has a deal with GAN, which is set up primarily for the casino games to be offered online, so the poker part of the plan remains unknown at this time.

According to the PGCB’s Director of Communications, Doug Harbach, the plan is to establish a mutual launch for all online gaming operators. The hope is to do so by the end of 2018, but considering the next approvals will not happen until September and October, that doesn’t leave much time for those last approved licensees to catch their preparations up to the level of other operators.

Per Fox43, Harbach also said, “We also have a good bit of background work to do with other entities, other services, that will partner with these casinos in (launching interactive gaming). And with regulations so, while we’re getting closer to being able to launch, at this point, we’re still a little bit down the road from seeing that happen.”

It seems the Gaming Control Board is anxious to “start getting some revenue in,” per Harbach, but the numerous pieces of the puzzle that must fit together will likely take more time than anticipated. Some of the operators may be ready to launch by the end of 2018, but if all are to coordinate for a unified launch, this likely won’t happen until 2019.

Even so, the process is moving faster in the public eye than in previous months, which gives players some insight into the new online poker market.


About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

Disclaimer: The information on this site is my interpretation of the laws as made available online. It is in no way meant to serve as legal advice or instruction. We recommend that you seek legal advice from a licensed attorney for further or official guidance.

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