PA Regulators Approve BetMGM Licenses for Online Casino, Sports Wagering

Written By Martin Harris on October 28, 2020 - Last Updated on March 9, 2021
MGM gains approval to offer online casino, poker and sports betting in PA

There may soon be another online casino and online sportsbook in Pennsylvania. There may even be another online poker room, too.

That’s because this morning, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) approved both interactive gaming operator and sports wagering operator licenses for BetMGM.

BetMGM moves closer to joining Keystone State market

Today’s approvals represent the most significant move forward during a lengthy, winding process for BetMGM to enter Pennsylvania.

After online gambling was legalized in Pennsylvania in late 2017, not every PA retail casino opted to seek licenses. The PGCB therefore opened up applications to out-of-state companies to come operate online casinos in Pennsylvania as qualified gaming entities (QGE).

Delaware-based BetMGM LLC had originally made its application as a QGE in January 2019. Later in October 2019, MGM paid $12 million in order to offer all three online gambling verticals:

The suspense was stretched out through this summer and fall as board meetings came and went without any approvals announcement. Meanwhile, BetMGM changed course and decided not to apply as a QGE, but rather to seek a land-based partner. Such a move enables BetMGM to add sports wagering as well, an option not open to QGE applicants.

Following the completion of work by the Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement, the Bureau of Licensing was able to supply the PGCB all the needed background and suitability reports on BetMGM. Today’s vote was without fanfare, with the entire board unanimously approving the applications.

The next step for BetMGM will be to establish a land-based partnership in order to launch in the state.

Pennsylvania poker players look ahead to partypoker PA launch

There are already several options for online casinos in PA. Meanwhile, today’s news gives online poker players in Pennsylvania new hope that an additional online poker room might be launching sooner than later in the state.

BetMGM operates in partnership with GVC Holdings under the ROAR Digital brand. ROAR currently operates partypoker in New Jersey. When the time comes, ROAR will also be ready to operate the new partypoker PA and BetMGM online poker site.

Since November 2019, PokerStars PA has been the only online poker room operating in the Keystone State.

It appeared that might be on the verge of becoming the second online poker room in PA when the PGCB approved an interactive gaming manufacturer license for Caesars‘ online poker partner 888 Holdings at the end of September.

However, a Caesars representative confirmed to PlayPA last week that we should not expect to see PA start dealing hands until 2021 at the earliest.

PokerStars online gaming licenses gain full approval in PA

Speaking of PokerStars, its parent company TSG Interactive US Services Ltd. also received unanimous approvals for both interactive gaming operating and sports wagering licenses at Wednesday’s PGCB meeting.

TSG had already received conditional approvals earlier, enabling it to operate its online casino, poker room and sportsbook via its partnership with Mount Airy Casino Resort in Pocono.

Lead image credit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

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Martin Harris

Martin Harris is a writer and teacher who has reported on poker, online gambling, and sports betting since the mid-2000s. Once a full-time academic (Ph.D., English), he currently teaches part-time in the American Studies program at UNC Charlotte. In 2019, his book Poker & Pop Culture was published by D&B Books.

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