Mohegan Sun Declines Online Poker in Pennsylvania
Online poker isn’t the big selling point for internet gaming that it once was. Not only has it been showing in the New Jersey revenue numbers each month, where statistics show online casino games growing continually and poker declining nearly every month, it is becoming evident in the upcoming Pennsylvania market, too.
Many assumed that online poker would be attractive to land-based casinos in Pennsylvania because of the interstate liquidity possibilities, but that has proven to be of little help to the game’s overall growth. Others predicted another poker boom in the United States as more states signed on, but general interest in poker has declined as casino games and sports betting are showing themselves as the core revenue generators.
This is not to say that there won’t be an online poker market in Pennsylvania. Seven land-based casinos took the state up on its sale-priced trio of licenses, the ability to apply for online poker, slots, and table games for only $10 million, a $2 million savings as compared to requesting them each at $4 million.
However, several casinos have turned down the deal in order to exclude online poker. And there is a new one that came as a bit of a surprise, as Mohegan Sun has declined an internet poker license application.
Mohegan Sun Chooses Not to Play Poker
The property once known as Pocono Downs is now Mohegan Sun Pocono, a racino with a harness race track and a sizeable casino that offers more than 2,000 slot machines and table games. There is also a poker room with 18 tables, its own bar, and a plethora of television screens. Players find daily tournaments in addition to cash games, as well as a bad beat jackpot and royal flush jackpot.
The company originally applied for the three-pack of licenses, though Mohegan Sun missed the sale and had to agree to pay $12 million for all three licenses. But when it addressed the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board this week to discuss its ability to offer online games, Mohegan Sun told the board members it only cared to offer online table games and slots, which would be launched in conjunction with partners NYX and Scientific Games.
According to PennBets, Mohegan Sun had originally anticipated partnering with PokerStars for online poker, giving them a prominent presence with poker players and a leg up on an industry that has proven to be limited and tight. But when PokerStars announced its deal with Mount Airy Casino, Mohegan Sun wasn’t exactly pleased, nor was the property excited about offering online poker without a big name to boost its revenue.
The board complied, allowing Mohegan Sun to drop its online poker license. At the same time, Mohegan Sun did receive its conditional gaming license to start setting up online slots and table game operations.
— PennBets (@PennBets) November 28, 2018
Seven-Handed Poker Market
As it stands, it seems that the seven casinos to offer online poker are:
–Harrah’s Casino Philadelphia
–Mount Airy Resort Casino
–Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course
–Valley Forge Casino Resort
–Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem
That leaves six (including the one rejected by Mohegan Sun) online poker licenses open and available.
Back in September, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board realized that the online poker licenses were not going to sell out. So, they announced that applications would be accepted from other qualified gaming entities, or QGEs. If those applicants were able to satisfy the requirements set forth by Pennsylvania law and meet all criteria established by the board, they had a chance to obtain an online poker license.
As a QGE, MGM Resorts applied for a trio of licenses, and Golden Nugget applied for online table games and slots only. So, it seems that only one company outside of the land-based casinos in Pennsylvania wanted that online poker license. All companies with that interest were supposed to be vetted and then chosen by a lottery system, but with only one name in the hat for online poker, MGM is likely to get it.
Unless some entity appears from the shadows to claim an online poker license, there may be four open ones by the time the licensed sites launch in 2019.
There will be high hopes for the sites to build a solid customer base and then share online poker liquidity with New Jersey and Nevada at some point. Major companies and online poker names will be in play, but the market launch with less of a boom than originally anticipated.