Pennsylvania Online Gaming Garners Initial Applicants

Pennsylvania Online Gaming Garners Initial Applicants

It wasn’t looking good for Pennsylvania. The initial licensing application window for online gaming operators opened in mid-April, and there was no activity. One month passed, and then another, and it was unclear if any of the dozen-plus casinos in Pennsylvania would apply for the bargain-priced $10 million licenses that allowed for online slots, table games, and internet poker.

But just as the closing date of the 90-day window approached, three casinos jumped into the mix with their completed applications. And on the final day, which was Sunday, July 15, six more of them filed last-minute paperwork to be included.

What was looking rather grim for a market that many fought hard to open to the online poker and casino games industry became a reason to celebrate. While all nine casinos are not guaranteed licenses, as the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board must verify and investigate the plethora of documents, the interest shown was a huge relief.

Nine Payments of $10 Million Each

Technically, a license for each individual segment of the Pennsylvania online gaming market costs $4 million. The three available licenses are for online poker, online table, and online slot games. But for a limited time only, from mid-April to mid-July, Pennsylvania casinos could apply for a combination package of all three licenses for the low, low price of just $10 million.

The first one to submit an application was Parx Casino (via its parent company, Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment), which boasts of a popular casino in Bensalem, just across the river from New Jersey in outskirts of Philadelphia. Parx is partnered with GAN for its online gaming software.

The second and third casinos offered their paperwork last Friday, one day after Parx. Mount Airy Casino Resort is in the Poconos, which has a relatively small poker room of nine tables. Mount Airy already has an agreement in place with 888. Stadium Casino is the other applicant, which plans to build Live! Hotel and Casino Philadelphia, in the heart of the city near several facilities that host professional sports leagues. As it has yet to open, it does not have an online gaming partner.

The other six properties were discovered at the start of business on Monday, July 16. Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem applied for its license, as did Valley Forge Casino Resort, Rivers Casino (under parent company Holdings Acquisition), and Sugarhouse Casino. Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack applied via Chester Downs and Marina, as did Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course through parent company Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association.

Of those six, only some have recognizable partners for online gaming. Harrah’s is obviously a Caesars property and thus affiliated with 888. Penn National has an existing partnership with Scientific Games, and Rivers and Sugarhouse are both in the Rush Street Gaming family. More agreements will likely become known in the coming months, as it is likely that PokerStars and PartyPoker will be in the mix.

Next Steps

The nine applicants are now in the running to offer online gaming for three types of games:

–Non-peer-to-peer interactive games which simulate slot machines

–Non-peer-to-peer interactive games which simulate table games

–Peer-to-peer interactive games which simulate poker

The PGCB must now begin the review process and will approve or deny the petitions within 90 days of the full acceptance of completed applications. Acceptance then means the properties will have 60 days to pay their fees.

Meanwhile, a new window has opened for the remaining casino license holders in the state. They have a 30-day period during which they can apply for single license categories for $4 million each. Some may just want to offer online poker or only online casino and slot games. The deadline for those applications is the middle of August.

At that time, other qualified entities will be able to petition the PGCB for licenses of any kind, though they must submit to a thorough investigation to determine their suitability to offer online gaming. More information will likely be available as that window prepares to open. This is subject to licenses being available, however, as there are 13 in total to be awarded.

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