The Online Casino Application Process Begins On April 16

Posted on March 14, 2018

Just days after the announcement the online casino application process was roughly a month away, we have an official date. Applications will be up on the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) starting April 16.

39 online gaming certificates available in three categories

The state will offer three different licenses for Pennsylvania online gambling. There will be 13 licenses in each category, one for each land-based casino license in the state.

The three categories are as follows:

  • Slot machines
  • Table games
  • Peer-to-peer games like poker

Now the PGCB applications available on April 16 are not for these individual certificates. Rather, they are for casinos who plan on purchasing all three. Separately, each of these licenses cost $4 million. Those in this first round of applications can get all three for a flat fee of $10 million though.

There is certainly a possibility all 13 casinos snap up the all-in-one license package. If that is the case, the licensing application phase will only last 90 days. If that is not the case though, things will continue until all licenses are sold.

Timetable for online casino license applications

The first window for the all-in-one licenses continues for 90 days. So, from April 16-July 14, PGCB will only accept licenses from casinos interested in the whole online package.

Once that window expires, there is a 30-day window that begins. During this period, Pennsylvania casinos interested in any remaining licenses in separate categories have a month to apply for them. At this point, the cost for each license is $4 million, even if a casino wants to apply for all three.

Are we done yet? Not quite.

If there are any licenses remaining in any of the categories after the 120-day period, the pool of applicants opens up. On Aug. 14, companies outside of Pennsylvania can file a petition for one of the remaining licenses.

Just because a company files a petition does not mean PGCB will grant them a license. Rather, the petition is the first step in establishing suitability with the state. Only after the state deems them suitable can they actually get the license.

If you’re marking on your calendar, this means outside groups will be more than four months behind existing PA casinos in the process of launching an online gambling site.

If the vetting process takes even a month to evaluate an applicant, that is almost a half-year headstart for casinos which applied for all three licenses during the initial application window. All the more reason why most casinos will likely opt for the combination license, even if they think online poker is not the money maker online casinos are.

Path to online gaming launch still unclear

We have some concrete dates, but there are still a lot of gaps to fill in. These applications are not a page or two long. They are long, complicated affair that will take some time to properly fill out and submit.

Then there is the process of PGCB evaluating each application before granting a license. Presumably, this can get done during the initial 90-day window, or else PGCB would not know how many licenses remain.

Then, of course, there is the matter of actually putting together an online gambling offering, running it through beta testing, and getting regulatory approval for that site. For those on-the-ball applicants, it appears the end of the year is still the best case scenario for online casinos and poker rooms to go live in the Keystone State.

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Jessica Welman

Jessica Welman is a contributor to PlayPennsylvania and managing editor of PlayIndiana and PlayTenn. 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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