Five Pennsylvania Online Poker Licenses Remain Available

Five Pennsylvania Online Poker Licenses Remain Available

In the several weeks since our last Pennsylvania online poker update, several things have taken place. Some land-based casinos inked deals with online partners, while other licenses were approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).

Online poker has been included in some of these plans, but five licenses remain up for grabs. It seems as if the casino operators are undoubtedly interested in the online slot and table game revenue that has proven a boost for New Jersey casino profits, but they don’t see the same potential for online poker. New Jersey numbers have certainly shown that revenue is on a perpetual downswing while other games continue their consistent and substantial growth, but what Pennsylvania casinos fail to see is poker’s potential. When more states and operators sprout in states like Pennsylvania, they can connect with other states via the interstate shared liquidity agreement and increase potential.

The road to a lucrative and profitable online poker market is long and will take time to see results, but every state’s participation in it is necessary to make it happen. While there will be several casinos offering online poker in Pennsylvania when the sites launch in early 2019, it would be more encouraging for poker fans supporters to see full participation in the new market.

But we digress. Let’s take a look at what’s been happening.

Several Weeks Ago…

At the beginning of October, several more Pennsylvania-based casinos received approvals for online gaming, including online poker. They each agreed to pay the full $10 million, which was the bargain price to receive all three online gaming licenses (slots, table games, and poker) together instead of paying $4 million for each separately.

As of then, the full list of casino properties awarded licenses that included online poker were:

–Harrah’s Casino Philadelphia, operated by Chester Downs and Marina (offered by Caesars Interactive/WSOP/888)

–Mount Airy Resort Casino (offered by PokerStars)

–Parx Casino, operated by Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment (plans unclear)

–Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, operated by Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association (plans unclear)

–SugarHouse Casino via Rush Street Gaming (plans unclear)

–Valley Forge Casino Resort, soon to be operated by Boyd Gaming (likely to be offered by PartyPoker but remains unofficial)

–Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem (plans unclear)

Latest Licenses

The latest casinos to be awarded licenses, Presque Isle Downs and Stadium Casino, opted out of including online poker in their plans. So, each establishment paid $4 million for online slots and $4 million for online table games, and while they could’ve picked up online poker for the discount price of $2 million, they each chose not to do so.

Those are the only two casinos that chose the limited licensing path in the Pennsylvania market thus far.

Meanwhile, there are five online poker licenses still up for grabs. There are only three remaining for online slots and three for online table games.

These licenses needn’t be awarded to Pennsylvania land-based casinos, per a decision by the PGCB in September that other “qualified gaming entities,” or QGEs, can apply for those licenses. QGEs are gaming entities licensed in any jurisdiction that comply with the Pennsylvania legal and regulatory requirements, including meeting all financial and character demands. These companies had to submit applications during the latter half of October in order to be considered and properly vetted. If there are a plethora of applicants, all of whom qualify, the licenses will be awarded at random.

According to Online Poker Report, only two companies have filed applications as QGEs.

MGM completed an application and paid the $12 million for all three licenses. It is unclear if it will use its relationship with Valley Forge via Boyd Gaming to enter the market or establish its own brand.

Golden Nugget also filed an application, but it opted only for online slots and table games, leaving poker alone. Filing as a QGE could mean a solo presence in Pennsylvania or some type of partnership with SugarHouse and Rivers via Rush Street Gaming under previously-signed deals that could be expanded to include internet gaming.

Both MGM and Golden Nugget hope to obtain licenses from the PGCB.

Even if MGM obtains a license to operate separately from Valley Forge, this will leave four licenses unclaimed. Properties that have yet to apply for licenses include Lady Luck, Meadows, and Rivers. Mohegan Sun Pocono has applied but not received an official response yet from the PGCB.


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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