All summer, Pennsylvania sports fans have been waiting for one thing — a casino to officially apply for a sports betting license.
After months with no action, that day is finally here. Penn National Gaming, owners of Hollywood Casino and The Meadows, officially submitted the first application on Friday. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Tweeted the news:
Gaming Control Board has received first petition to request offering sports wagering from Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing, operator of @HollywoodPenn
— PGCB (@PAGamingControl) August 17, 2018
The license cost the company $10 million. The fee is a one-time fee. If approved, Penn National can offer both live and online sports betting in the state.
William Hill, one of the largest European sports betting companies, will partner with Penn National for both brick and mortar and mobile betting.
Application follows latest update to sports betting regulations
The application comes just two days after the PGCB released the latest temporary sports betting regulations. Many casinos said they were waiting to see what the regulations look like before formally applying. It appears Penn National approved of the latest set of updates and decided to pull the trigger.
Some of the elements of the regulations, like a single skin for sports bettors, is something that bothers several other properties. Companies who have established partners like PokerStars and FanDuel, don’t love that the sports betting online client has to prominently feature the name of the associated property.
Penn National, on the other hand, was pushing for a single skin in both sports betting and online gambling. It isn’t clear how the company’s William Hill deal will be impacted by the rule.
Statement from Penn National
Shortly after the announcement, Penn National Vice President Fred Lipkin elaborated on the company’s PA sports betting plans:
“Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course today formally applied for a license to conduct sports wagering at our facility. We believe this will provide us another attractive amenity at Hollywood Casino, in addition to our full suite of the latest slot machines, table games, multiple dining outlets, exciting live racing and soon to be online gaming offerings. Our plan is to locate our sports book in a newly renovated simulcast theater area at Hollywood Casino and the operations will managed by William Hill US, the largest sports betting operator in the United States. Operations are expected to begin later this Fall upon final approval by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.”
Timeline for Penn National sports betting launch
Per the new regulations, casinos must submit sports betting applications 90 days in advance of launch. That puts launch in mid-November. However, the chairman of PGCB can shorten that window, so it is possible Penn National starts taking bets earlier than that.
PGCB’s next meeting is on Sept. 12, which is the earliest they can approve Penn National’s application though, so don’t expect them to take wagers during the first few weeks of football action.
There is no guarantee Penn National is ready to present something to the board on that short timeline. Moreover, PGCB already has a lot on its plate for the next meeting, including discussing how outside entities can apply for the remaining seven interactive gaming licenses. It also is hearing interactive gaming applicants like they did at this week’s meeting. The agenda might be a little too busy and Penn does not get its turn until October.
In Penn’s application, it states it can be ready to start taking bets on Sept. 30. While that would be great, it is quite an aggressive timeline. In other words, don’t plan a trip to the casino for that weekend.
The process of applying for a sports betting license is not something where you just flick on a switch and it is ready to go, especially regarding mobile wagering. In New Jersey, for example, there is only one mobile app up and running. There are also eight brick and mortar sportsbooks, which are a little easier to navigate through the regulatory process.
Given the likelihood Penn doesn’t get approved until October, November or December seems like the most realistic period Penn National starts accepting wagers.
Penn and William Hill partnering up elsewhere too
Pennsylvania is not the only state where Penn National and William Hill will collaborate. The two are about to launch sports betting at five Mississippi casinos. Additionally, they recently obtained a license to operate at Hollywood Casino Charles Town in West Virginia.
Currently, both the Mississippi books and the West Virginia casino are set to start taking bets on Sept. 1. If you want to get an idea of how sports betting with Penn might look in PA, keep an eye on those locations. it is worth noting though that Mississippi will not offer mobile wagering, but West Virginia plans to do so eventually.