Is Pennsylvania Ready to Launch Online Gaming?
Pennsylvania lawmakers legalized online poker and casino games in October 2017. Most assumed that the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) would take notes from New Jersey regarding licensing and other details so sites could be approved and ready to launch by late 2018.
They were wrong.
Hopeful players waited for answers from the PGCB through the entire year of 2018 and into 2019 before an announcement finally came on April 17, 2019. And it wasn’t so much an announcement as PGCB Executive Director Kevin O’Toole mentioning it in his director’s report at a regularly-scheduled meeting.
At that time, O’Toole noted that there were 10 online gaming certificate holders and three online gaming operators that all coordinated a go-live period that would commence on July 15, 2019. That would give the regulators and operators ample time to complete the necessary steps in the process to prepare for the official launch.
The state of Pennsylvania plans to launch legal online poker while the @WSOP Main Event final table is playing out in Las Vegas. First state in years to kick off online poker. Should be an exciting week for US poker players.
— Brian Pempus (@brianpempus) April 17, 2019
O’Toole also noted that all online gaming operators might not be able to meet the launch period timeline, but no entities were named.
Since then, there has been no further information released to the public regarding which casinos will be affiliated with online poker or casino games, which will be the first to launch, or even if the July 15 date is still valid.
Let’s get to what we do know.
Applicants and Licenses
The following is a list of casinos that have received licenses, most for online poker and casino games but three for online slots and table games only, as marked:
–Parx Casino via Greenwood Gaming (poker partner: GAN/Kambi)
–Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack via Chester Downs (poker partner: 888)
–Mount Airy Casino Resort via Mount Airy #1 (poker partner: PokerStars)
–Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course via Mountainview (poker partner: IGT)
–Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem via Sands Bethworks Gaming (poker partner: unknown)
–SugarHouse Casino via Sugarhouse HSP Gaming (poker partner: Rush Street)
–Valley Forge Casino Resort via Valley Forge (poker partner: PartyPoker)
–Live! Philadelphia Casino via Stadium Casino (no online poker)
–Presque Isle Downs Casino via Presque Isle Downs (no online poker)
–Mohegan Sun Pocono via Downs Racing (no online poker)
In addition, it shows that Borgata in New Jersey filed a petition for a license to operate online poker and casino games, while Golden Nugget Pennsylvania filed to operate casino games only. Both were deemed “qualified gaming entities” and allowed by the PGCB to apply since there were licenses not claimed by Pennsylvania-based casino operators.
Roar Digital is also a late applicant with a pending application. Roar is US-focused arm of GVC, which is PartyPoker’s parent company. Roar was recently licensed in Nevada and New Jersey.
fwiw, PA took so long to kick off online casino gaming after legalizing it in 2017 that one of its online casinos is planning to rebrand before it even launches
— Brian Pempus (@brianpempus) June 12, 2019
This may not be a complete list, as the PGCB website offers little information in the way of connecting operators to casinos for online gaming and specifying the type of games to be offered.
Awaiting July 10 Meeting
There is a monthly PGCB meeting schedule for Wednesday, July 10. If any of the aforementioned operators are prepared to launch online poker and/or casino games this month, O’Toole should address the board with an update.
The extent of information that will be available to the public remains to be seen.
At the very least, the launch date should be confirmed, and there should be details provided about the beta testing period’s length and scope.
At the end of May, The PGCB announced the launch of its online gaming self-exclusion program. It was modeled after the one used by land-based casinos in Pennsylvania.
— Focus Gaming News (@FocusGamingNews) May 30, 2019
The tool will allow any person to voluntarily exclude themselves from being able to access any online gaming or sports betting for time periods of one year, five years, or a lifetime.
Information and forms are available on the PGCB website through a special “quick link” on the home page, but the forms cannot be submitted online. Persons wishing to self-exclude must make an appointment at the PGCB Harrisburg office, a regional office, or a licensed facility and present the forms in person. They will be photographed and must present photo identification to verify their identity.
All online gaming sites must then refuse to accept deposits from these individuals, and they must not offer any club memberships, complimentary goods or services, solicitations, targeted mailings, telemarketing promotions, and online gambling materials to those persons.
This self-exclusion program is separate from that offered for land-based casinos, so players must complete the process separately.
For those players who want to apply self-imposed gambling limits for online poker, casino games, or sports betting, they can do so on any of the gaming sites (or all of them). There will be daily, weekly, or monthly limits for depositing, betting, or spending, or players can set time limits.