PGCB’s Calendar Filling Up, But Major Regulatory Questions Are Still TBD

Posted on March 27, 2018

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) calendar is filling up, but the answers to some major regulatory questions are still up in the air.

PGCB announced Tuesday that the organization will start accepting applications for interactive gaming platforms on June 4. What are those, you may ask? Well, these are not the Pennsylvania online casinos themselves. Rather, these are the groups that provide software platforms for these casinos. Some examples are:

  • NYX/Scientific Games
  • 888 Casino
  • Rush Street Interactive
  • GAN

Some casinos already have online software provider partnerships. However, unless that partner completes the application and gets approved, that partnership cannot move forward. In the meantime, the online casinos themselves can send in their gaming applications beginning on April 16, well before any decisions about the suitability of their online partners.

What does the provider application entail?

Applications are available on the PGCB website. The application for software providers is extensive. The 59-page document covers a wide range of information, including major principals in the company. Once the applications are complete, there is still more to the process too.

The next steps are, per the PGCB:

  1. Once an application is submitted, the applicant will receive instructions on how to be fingerprinted.
  2. After the PGCB receives the fingerprint results and all other deficiencies in the application are cured, the application will be deemed complete.
  3. The completed application for each individual and entity will undergo a background investigation.

If you cannot tell, the process is a long and complicated one. This is why a June 4 deadline might be more telling than it initially seems. Originally, the hope was the first PA online casinos would launch in November of this year. If applications for providers are not coming in until the summer, the window from approval to launch keeps shrinking.

Certainly, it seems likely that PGCB can let Pennsylvania casinos know how an application is proceeding. However, official approval is yet another element that will be up in the air longer than initially expected.

Skins will influence who applies as providers

Another element that is still up in the air is how many skins can operate on each license. If PGCB chooses to limit skins, that is something providers will certainly want to know before forking over the $1 million licensing fee.

With that in mind, it certainly seems like a ruling on skins is coming up before June 4, at the very latest. The next PGCB meeting is April 4, which is the earliest there might be a decision on skins.

Recently, two of the lawmakers behind the gambling expansion bill,  Reps. Rosita Youngblood and Jason Ortitay, went on record that the intent was never to limit skins. Rather, they modeled the laws after New Jersey, where each online license has up to five skins on it.

These new deadlines are heartening in that it means the sites are making progress towards launching. However, without key decisions on matters like skins, these deadlines are also fraught with unanswered questions.

Jessica Welman Avatar
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Jessica Welman

Jessica Welman is a contributor to PlayPennsylvania and managing editor of PlayIndiana and PlayTenn. A longtime poker media presence, Jess has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and served as the managing editor for WSOP.com.

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