More Pennsylvania Online Gaming Licenses Approved
Last month, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) approved the first three online gaming licenses for its new internet market. As of mid-September, two new companies can be added to that list. As of September 12, Hollywood Casino and SugarHouse Casino each received their approvals and can officially move forward with preparing to launch online poker, table games, and slots.
This puts the total of approved licensees for the new Pennsylvania market at five, and with each approved for all three facets of the industry, it means 15 individual licenses have been awarded.
Even so, this is the beginning stage of the process that still requires more licensing, site testing, and a coordinated launch that will likely be scheduled for the early months of 2019.
Two New Licensees
The PGCB held a meeting on September 12 to discuss online gaming license applications, and they revealed that two licenses were awarded.
Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course won its interactive gaming license via parent company Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association. And SugarHouse Casino won its license under the ownership of Rush Street Gaming. Both companies received unanimous vote approvals.
Each property now must pay $10 million to the regulator within the next 60 days, while at the same time they may move ahead with site preparations.
Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approves first wave of Internet-based gambling licenses https://t.co/sNI7jJhlXW
— PGCB (@PAGamingControl) August 16, 2018
As it stands, it does not appear that either casino currently have confirmed partnerships with online poker operators. Both have partners in technology that can develop online casino platforms, but neither have indicated online poker viability, despite Penn National confirming that it has every intention of offering online poker sometime in 2019.
Three Already in Progress
Per last month’s PGCB hearing, three casino operators have been in possession of licenses for one month now and are likely in the process of developing their sites and plans for launches. Parx Casino, Mount Airy Casino Resort, and Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack were the first to gain entry to the new market.
— LegalUSPokerSites (@legal_poker) August 16, 2018
Around the same time as the PGCB announcement, Mount Airy made official its partnership with the Stars Group for all online verticals, putting PokerStars for its online poker offering.
Days later, Caesars confirmed, on behalf of its Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack, its intended use of the World Series of Poker brand for a WSOP online poker site in Pennsylvania. The other verticals will be affiliated with the WSOP and Caesars as well.
Random Licenses to Be Awarded
The original plan seemed to be that three multi-purpose licenses would be awarded in September and October, as had been in August. This would give each approved casino the necessary permissions to offer online poker and various online casino games and slots. However, that strategy has changed.
According to Pokerfuse, the PGCB announced on September 12 that the remaining gaming certificates – specifically three for online poker, two for online slots, and two for internet table games – will be given randomly to operators located outside of Pennsylvania. The reason there is an additional poker certificate available is that one applicant applied for the other two only.
PGCB Executive Director Kevin O’Toole explained that those operators will be called qualified gaming entities or QGEs. “A QGE is defined in the expanded gaming act as a gaming entity licensed in any jurisdiction which has satisfied the requirements set forth in the act and any other criteria established by the board, including financial and character suitability requirements.”
Said companies will be able to submit their intentions to apply for licenses between October 15 and 31 only, after which they will be vetted for viability in the new market. Those deemed qualified will then be put into a virtual hat, and licenses will be awarded to those chosen at random. The winners can then submit their official gaming applications within the 60 days from that point for official vetting.
The Pennsylvania market is already setting itself apart from New Jersey by opening its market to include a broader range of companies, which may complicate matters when the states begin to discuss the multi-state online poker network. However, PGCB officials have been speaking with New Jersey regulators as they establish their new framework, so there could be something in the works to overcome any obstacles.