Does DraftKings Have Something Up Its Sleeve In Pennsylvania?

Posted on June 27, 2019

With so many launches and partnerships, plenty of folks thought all hope was gone for DraftKings Sportsbook in Pennsylvania.

However, strange things may be afoot in PA.

DraftKings is drawing attention for quite a rumor, namely that it is in the process of acquiring SBTech, a sports betting provider for numerous casinos, including Presque Isle Downs.

While that is still just a whisper, DraftKings has taken some concrete steps to ready itself for entree into the PA real-money sports betting world.

DraftKings applies for PA gambling licenses

Earlier this month, DraftKings turned in paperwork for two different PA gambling license. One is as a sports betting operator. The other is for a license to be an interactive gaming operator. Both applications are reflected on the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) website.

To be clear, these licenses are not the same as the $10 million licenses sought by Category 1-3 casinos. Rather, these are the licenses sought by partners with these casinos. Other examples of applicants in these categories include:

  • Kambi
  • SBTech
  • FanDuel
  • William Hill
  • Betfair
  • The Stars Group

What do these applications do for DraftKings PA and sports betting?

A PGCB spokesperson confirmed that what these licenses would allow DraftKings to do is partner with a Category 1-3 casino to offer both online gambling and sports betting.

In the case of sports betting, there are only a few partners to choose from. There are four casinos that have yet to apply for a license:

Both Wind Creek and Stadium say they plan on offering sports betting in the future. The Stadium project can’t go live with sports betting, online or retail, until the casino opens in December 2020. Wind Creek, however, is in a position to move much more quickly.

The Meadows was circulating through the rumor mill as a possible landing spot for DraftKings earlier this year, but the latest whispers suggest that possibility fizzled.

What do these applications do for DraftKings PA and online casino?

When it comes to a PA online casino, DraftKings has different options. The window to apply for interactive licenses has come and gone for both Category 1-3 casinos and qualified gaming entities (QGE).

No one else can enter the fold, but there are two casinos that have licenses but no partner, Stadium and Wind Creek. Again, Stadium is on a different timeline than everyone else. However, even Wind Creek will play some serious catch up given most casinos submitted their plans for online casino months ago.

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And what about this DK SBTech business?

When asked for comment, DraftKings told Legal Sports Report:

“DraftKings speaks to a variety of companies regarding various matters in the normal course of business, and it is our general policy not to discuss the specifics of any of those discussions.”

So, all we can do is speculate about potential ramifications at this point. Given that DraftKings is taking steps to move into Pennsylvania. Is it possible that this SBTech deal opens the door for DraftKings to move into Pennsylvania via Presque Isle Downs.

Recall that Presque Isle Downs recently delayed its sports betting plans because its kiosk provider did not get license approval until July. Nonetheless, the casino did present its sportsbook plans to PGCB with an online BetAmerica-branded sportsbook.

So, if Presque Isle Down did want to change its plans, it would probably need to resubmit to get approval. The race to get retail and online up and running by football will certainly be a consideration, should this SBTech deal happen and afford Presque Isle some different options when it comes to PA online gambling.

Jessica Welman Avatar
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Jessica Welman

Jessica Welman is the managing editor of PlayPennsylvania. 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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