Shortly before the deadline closed on Wednesday, Golden Nugget submitted its application as a qualified gaming entity (QGE) to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB). PGCB confirmed receipt of the application to PlayPennsylvania.
Unlike MGM, which applied for online slots, table games, and poker, Golden Nugget is only seeking slots and table games licenses. Each license runs $4 million.
Golden Nugget, MGM should use 5 of 11 licenses
With only two applicants, both should get exactly what they ask for. There are currently 11 licenses up for grabs. That number ticked up one today after Stadium Casino said it did not want to pursue online poker after all. That leaves us with:
- Five online poker licenses
- Three online slots licenses
- Three online table games licenses
MGM and Golden Nugget will use five total licenses, meaning $20 million more in PA revenue should PGCB approve their petitions.
It also means there will be four leftover online poker licenses and one each of slots and table games.
The leftover poker licenses are not surprising. Additionally, it is probably for the best for the state to have a limited number of sites in the marketplace. Online poker has struggled in New Jersey. Returns are diminishing, with less than $2 million in revenue each month.
NJ online poker consists of seven sites, none of which are doing gangbusters business. Certainly, Pennsylvania is a bigger state, but having eight poker sites seems like a much more sustainable number than 13.
Golden Nugget the market leader in NJ
While online poker does not fare too well in New Jersey, online casinos are big business. And no one’s business is bigger than Golden Nugget. A late starter to the game, Golden Nugget ascended to the top spot thanks to a high-quality gaming platform from NYX and a huge library of game titles from all the top providers.
Last month, Golden Nugget took in $9.3 million of the $24.1 million in total online gambling revenue. That is over one-third of total market share. It does so without an online poker client too.
A name familiar to Pennsylvanians, PlaySugarHouse, also operates under Golden Nugget’s New Jersey license, as does Betfair Online Casino.
For a while it seemed as though SugarHouse would be Golden Nugget’s way in to Pennsylvania. It does have the option of functioning as a skin under an existing PA interactive gaming license. However, the skins are under a fair number of rules of stipulations. Golden Nugget being able to function independently appears to have been too good a thing to pass up.
What next for PA QGEs?
Now that the application window for QGEs is closed, he next step of the process is for PGCB to vet these applications.
To give you an idea, MGM’s application was 139 pages long and included operating info about just about every aspect of Borgata Casino’s New Jersey gaming license.
Still though, PGCB and DGE have a reasonably good working relationship. Plus the two applicants are well known and established casino companies. As such, the process to rubber stamp them might not take too long.
Don’t expect any movement until Nov. 28 and the next PGCB meeting though. And remember — these companies can apply for online casino, but this does not give them the okay to offer sports betting in Pennsylvania.
Sure, there are eight sports betting licenses left, but there are currently no plans to open those up to outside contenders.