UPDATED: MGM Has Its Eyes On Those Leftover PA Online Casino Licenses

Written By Marty Derbyshire on October 30, 2018 - Last Updated on December 11, 2023
MGM lion at Macau

US casino and gaming giant MGM Resorts International is reportedly jumping in the new Pennsylvania online gambling market head first.

Sources tell Online Poker Report MGM is applying for at least one of the now available PA online gambling licenses.

UPDATE 1:28 p.m. ET — Per Online Poker Report, the paperwork from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) confirms MGM Resorts is applying for all three of the available categories of PA online gambling licenses.

The company submitted the paperwork using Borgata Resort and Casino’s New Jersey licenses on the application. The playMGM brand of online casino and poker is already operational in New Jersey. There is also a sports betting app available under the same name as well.

So far, this is the only applicant PGCB has confirmed for the available licenses. If that does turn out to be the case, MGM would have carte blanche to pick up all three of the $4 million licenses.

Unclaimed PA online gambling licenses

Seven online gambling licenses remained available after the PGCBallowed its 13 casino license holders an exclusive window to apply for licenses to operate online slots, online table games, and online poker. Three more became available when Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh pulled its application, bringing the total to 10.

The unclaimed licenses include:

  • 3 for online slots
  • 3 for online table games
  • 4 for online poker

PA regulators have since invited qualified gaming entities (QGEs) from outside the PA casino industry to apply for the available licenses before Oct. 31. As of now, there are still no PA sports betting licenses available to these QGE applicants.

The state will award the remaining licenses through a random draw. Regulators have not set a date for the draw. Each license will come at a cost of $4 million. Draw winners will have 60 days to finalize an application.

The earliest possible date for a draw is probably around the Nov. 28 PGCB meeting. These applications need to be vetted in advance of the draw, so don’t expect action until after Thanksgiving.

Until now, exactly which qualified gaming entities will apply for the unclaimed licenses has been unclear. However, MGM has always been considered a prime candidate.

MGM launched playMGM-branded online casino and online poker sites in New Jersey soon after buying out its longtime partner and taking complete control of The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa.

Of course, regulators were forced to leave the organization out of the initial application process because MGM does not currently have a physical presence in the state. But that’s not for lack of trying.


MGM was close to locking up that physical presence in PA in 2017, before its $1.3 billion deal to buy Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem collapsed. PA online gambling was initially seen as a motivation for MGM wanting in the state.

Wind Creek Hospitality, an affiliate of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, has since stepped in. It is currently finalizing its own $1.3 billion deal to buy the property with online gambling license applications already attached.

MGM has clearly been eyeing other inroads into the emerging PA online gambling market. It struck a deal to partner on online gambling initiatives with Boyd Gaming, amid Boyd finalizing its purchase of PA’s Valley Forge Casino Resort.

Additionally, MGM is supposedly a potential suitor in reports the prepping-for-construction Stadium Casino in Philadelphia is for sale. Stadium Casino owners have already applied for online gambling licenses in PA.

Therefore, if all the rumors are true, it wins the draw, and it buys Stadium Casino, MGM could potentially go from the outside looking in to the forefront of the budding PA online gambling industry, almost overnight.

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Marty Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire has more than ten years of experience reporting on the poker, online gambling, and land-based casino industries for a variety of publications including Bluff Magazine, PokerNews, and PokerListings. He has traveled extensively, attending tournaments and interviewing major players in the gambling world.

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