The number of PA sports betting applicants hit double digits this week when the Live! Hotel & Casino project submitted its plans to offer online and retail PA sportsbooks.
The property, which will not open its doors until December 2020, is the 10th of the 13 PA casinos to apply for the $10 million license.
Live! plans include online, retail, and satellite betting
At the July 10 Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) meeting, Cordish Gaming, the project’s parent company, said they planned to turn in a sports betting proposal. They kept their word, submitting the application on July 26.
Within the application, the property outlines plans for a retail sportsbook at the Live! Hotel & Casino facility. Once live, it will provide some steep competition for the aging South Philadelphia Race and Sportsbook, operated by Parx.
Both facilities will be in the heart of the Philadelphia athletic scene, Stadium Park. The area is home to Wells Fargo Arena, Lincoln Financial Field, and Citizens Bank Park. In other words, the home of every major Philly sports team. Unlike the Turf Club, the Live! facility will be a brand-new resort casino experience with more of a draw for retail customers.
While construction continues on the Category 2 casino, the plans for a Live!-sponsored mini-casino are moving forward as well. Cordish wants to offer sports betting at the satellite casino site, which will anchor Westmoreland Mall. The site is 40 miles west of Pittsburgh.
As for a Live!-branded PA online sportsbook, other than mentioning it is in the works, the application offered no details regarding partners or projected online launch dates.
Cordish challenging legality of satellite sports betting rules
Since the gambling expansion law passed in October 2017, there has been a lack of clarity about how mini-casinos and sports betting interacted. Once satellite casino bidders started announcing sports betting plans, it seemed as though the $10 million license covered satellite casino betting as well.
That turns out to be the case only for some of the casinos, not for all. While Category 1 casinos can offer a retail sportsbook at satellite facilities, Category 2 and 3 properties currently need to file a supplemental $10 million license for the mini-casino property.
Of the five mini-casino licenses, three are in the hands of a Category 1 operator. Two belong to Hollywood Casino at Penn National, while a third is in Parx’s hands. The other two auction winners were Live! and Mount Airy. Both of these Category 2 licensees have plans for western PA satellite casinos near Pittsburgh.
Rivers Casino Pittsburgh currently dominates the western PA retail scene thanks to a virtual monopoly. Shutting out these two properties would only strengthen the Rush Street casino’s position in the region.
According to the Live! application, this is not fair. As a result, they are petitioning the board to allow Category 2 properties the same permissions as Category 1 facilities. The group points out that the language in the expansion act and supplemental acts related to mini-casinos seem to intend equality across all mini-casino licensees.
Stadium Casino’s argument in its own words
The Stadium project summed up its problem with the current setup in the application:
The result is substantial inequity between the Category 1 licensees and the Category 2 and 3 licensees that may have an affiliated Category 4 casino. Of the five Category 4 facilities currently planned, three would be able to conduct sports wagering under their affiliated Category 1 license by locating a nonprimary location within the licensed facility, while the remaining two Category 4 facilities would be deprived of the opportunity unless each entity paid an additional $10 million for a separate sports wagering certificate. The result is contrary to the rule of statutory construction which precludes interpretations that produce absurd results. The interpretation would also relegate the Category 4 facilities held by Category 2 or 3 licensees to “second class” status, depriving them and their customers of a retail sportsbook that can be offered at select, Category 1-affiliated Category 4 casinos.
The next step for the licensee is to present its sports betting plans at a future PGCB meeting. The process includes working with the PGCB on a ruling regarding whether or not its satellite casino can have a sportsbook without costing $10 million more.
As for potential bidders at the new round of satellite casino bidding that begins Sept. 4? Well, they probably want clarity on the answer before putting forth any more money for a mini-casino property.
Read the full Stadium Casino project application below:Stadium