Pennsylvania’s gaming industry is marching ambitiously into a new era. About six months after the state approved a sweeping expansion package, the first regulated platforms are beginning to come to market.
The PA Lottery launched Keno this week, making the electronic game available in hundreds of bars and retail outlets. It’s also prepared to add virtual sports betting and an online lottery app in the coming months. Online casino games will follow shortly thereafter, and sports betting in PA might even be available soon.
Daily fantasy sports is newly regulated in Pennsylvania, as well. Sites like DraftKings and FanDuel have been serving the state for years, but operations are now under the oversight of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).
Specifics of PA DFS regulation
Last week, the PGCB published temporary DFS regulations to establish an early framework for oversight. Though not final, they are comprehensive.
Some of the specifics include:
- Requirement to maintain know-your-customer controls
- Restrictions on participation for certain employees and excluded gamblers
- Stipulation to offer beginner contests which exclude highly experienced players
- Prohibition on contests based on amateur sports
- Enforcement against the use of software scripts
- Requirements for maintaining records
The regulations define a “highly experienced player” as one who has entered more than 1,000 contests or won $1,000 or more at least three times.
Applicants pay $50,000 for a five-year license, and renewal costs $10,000. Unless otherwise prohibited, operators with pending applications are permitted to offer their products in the meantime. Revenue generated by PA players will be taxed at a rate of 15 percent.
The minimum age for Pennsylvania DFS players is 18 for online play and 21 for brick-and-mortar contests.
Pennsylvania DFS licensees
So far there are eight DFS outfits that have applied for PA licenses:
- Boom Fantasy
- Fantasy Football Players Championship
- Sports Hub
Some of these applications are already on file, and some are included based on confirmation from industry sources.
Yahoo DFS is not on the list yet, but it’d be a surprise if that remains the case for long. The same can be said for EagleStrike, which operates a large network of DFS kiosks in the region. While some states have prohibited these kiosks, PA will welcome EagleStrike if it decides to swoop in.
FastPick is on the list, and it’s an interesting inclusion. The in-house product of Resorts Atlantic City is set to cross state lines to serve the PA market.
DRAFT is now a division of Paddy Power Betfair, which has a presence in nearly every gaming market and vertical. The group already offers DFS in Pennsylvania, and it intends to explore online gambling in due time. Both DRAFT and NY-based Boom Fantasy offer newer, non-traditional variants of DFS.
Fantasy Football Players Championship (FFPC) and Sports Hub are the wildcards, both relatively unknown in the space. FFPC is a paid, season-long product that offers contests across a tall range of stakes. It’s actually been around since 2008, based on an idea formulated several years earlier. Sports Hub is brand new, apparently close to debuting its proprietary platform.
And, of course, it’s no surprise to see industry leaders DraftKings and FanDuel at the front of the line.
What changes for PA DFS?
From the players’ standpoint, not much will change in the DFS landscape. The major sites already serve the state, customers already play the games, and both of those things will continue as before. Now, though, there are additional safeguards in place to protect customers and their funds.
Operators have a long list of new rules they must adhere to, but that won’t really change much, either. Proposed regulations fall in line with those in many other states, and sites have been complying with those for years. They will, however, have to file tax returns with the state of Pennsylvania going forward.
That’s really the only change. The state will now receive a direct share of the revenue generated from paid-entry fantasy sports contests. Some analysts estimate that about 65,000 Pennsylvanians will participate, projecting $7.5 million in annual revenue for the state.
It’s not a ton of money, mind you, but it is essentially free money found between the couch cushions.