Pennsylvania Gaming Licenses Awarded, More Available
The road to Pennsylvania online gaming has been paved with some confusion, at least for the general public. In the offices of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, it is likely running like a well-oiled machine.
There are essentially three types of licenses available for new industry participants: online poker, online table games, and online slots. Each license costs $4 million, but in-state casinos were offered an early-bird special that allowed them to pick up all three licenses during the initial application window for the bargain price of $10 million.
Since the process began, however, things have changed. Some casinos have been awarded all three licenses as planned, but the confusion came into play with the announcement that non-traditional applicants would be considered. Meanwhile, some casinos received their license approvals, though not all have been announced by Gaming Control Board press releases, and others have already given up their licenses.
Someone is going to need to make a chart.
Early Licenses Awarded
In the early going, several licenses were awarded that still stand. The first three licenses (for all types of online gaming, including poker) went to the following in August:
–Harrah’s Casino Philadelphia, operated by Chester Downs and Marina (online poker to be offered by Caesars Interactive/WSOP)
–Mount Airy Resort Casino (online poker to be offered by PokerStars)
–Parx Casino, operated by Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment (online poker plans unclear)
As of September, two more casinos received their approvals for the comprehensive license packages:
–Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, operated by Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association (online poker plans unclear)
–SugarHouse Casino via Rush Street Gaming (online poker plans unclear)
The latest hearing was held in the first week of October, and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board took the opportunity to award two more full online gaming license packages. These were as follows:
–Valley Forge Casino Resort, soon to be operated by Boyd Gaming (online poker likely to be offered by PartyPoker but remains unofficial)
–Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem (online poker plans unclear)
The licenses for Sands may seem odd and in total contrast to the anti-online gambling stance of Sands CEO and Chairman Sheldon Adelson, who spends millions of dollars campaigning to ban online poker and casino games in America. According to Online Poker Report, Sands didn’t even offer a presentation to go with its application for the licenses but accepted the licenses due to the pending sale of the casino to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, operating as PCI Gaming.
Later this month, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is likely to address the outstanding application on behalf of Mohegan Sun Pocono, though it is unclear why this casino operator remains unapproved.
Rivers Casino was another original applicant for all three interactive gaming licenses, but the company withdrew its application last week for unknown reasons. However, owner Rush Street Gaming already obtained its licenses for SugarHouse Casino, and it may not want to double the offering with Rivers. This withdrawal puts more licenses up for grabs.
According to the Gaming Control Board, there are four online poker licenses remaining available, as well as three for online slots and three for online table games. Petitions can be filed from October 15 to October 31, and applications are being accepted from all qualified gaming entities. This was recently explained by PGCB Executive Director Kevin O’Toole, who labeled them QGEs and explained that they simply meet all of the requirements set forth in the law to operate online gaming in Pennsylvania.
More should be known by the end of October, such as the final list of applicants. This may give industry analysts a better idea of a possible timeline for the launch of the online poker and gaming sites.