Pennsylvania Regulator Allows Interactive Gaming Skins
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has a tough job. Once lawmakers approved online poker and casino sites for the state, the state’s gambling regulator was tasked with filling in the blanks. And one of those controversial blanks pertained to skins.
An online gambling skin refers to an online poker or casino site that shares software with another. The skins also share the same license. For example, in New Jersey, Caesars uses the same license to offer online gaming sites under the Harrah’s, Caesars, WSOP, and 888 brands, all skins that are connected.
Most casinos in Pennsylvania wanted permission to offer multiple skins, but Parx Casino was one of the primary opponents. It seems that the majority of casinos won, but there are some restrictions.
Regulator Issues Temporary Decision
“What the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board did at its public meeting of April 4, 2018 was to approve temporary regulations that enable a very open and competitive market for internet gaming while at the same time assuring transparency and accountability for the consumers. Under these temporary regulations there is no limitation on the number of skins that a slot machine licensee may employ to deliver games, but every “skin” that a casino offers must be branded in a manner that makes it clear that it is offered on behalf of the slot machine licensee consistent with language of the act.”
Some of the highlights of the temporary rules pertaining to skins are in Chapter 818 of the document, which notes that every license holder must clearly identify itself via each interactive gaming skin in a way that is visible and clear to players. The organizational framework must be displayed. Each skin must post specific information about responsible gambling, including a particular phrase for at-risk gamblers that offers a toll-free phone number. Board approval must be obtained for all skins.
One point that players must note is that each person may only have one account per licensee, no matter how many skins are available.
Keep in mind, however, that these are the temporary regulations, and there may be some clarifications and/or changes before licenses are awarded and the process moves forward from there.
Players Counting the Months
The developments in Pennsylvania online poker and gaming may seem frequent, but the process is taking its time. Much of this was to be expected, but poker players and others who are anxious to play regulated online poker again must exercise patience.
As for operators, their preparations thus far will soon require patience as well. They have had access to the licensing applications and requirements for some time, and they’ve likely been doing the work to complete those forms and provide all necessary paperwork. They will be able to submit those applications beginning on April 16.
From there, however, the PGCB will begin the investigation and verification processes, which could take weeks or months. The waiting process will go into effect until licenses are officially awarded, at which time the real work will begin. They can then begin hiring more employees, establishing servers, and developing overall business strategies.
When licenses are awarded, players will be able to see their online poker industry take shape as sites release information and beta testing begins.
It still appears that there will be no real-money online poker in the new regulated Pennsylvania market until the fall months, at the soonest, but anything can happen. Until then, players might want to keep their seats at the live casinos or anywhere else they currently play, as it’s going to be a while before this long-awaited market officially opens.
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