With Applications Open, Online Casinos Making Serious Forward Progress

Written By J.R. Duren on May 2, 2018 - Last Updated on August 9, 2022
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We’re getting closer to the launch of PA online gambling.

This past week, Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) Director of Communications Doug Harbach revealed in an interview that application season is now open for $10 million licenses that would allow existing casinos to run websites with poker, table games, and slots.

The applications are officially known as petitions. They require an extensive amount of information, Harbach told Online Poker Report.

“It’s a little different than just an application, they have to send in a legal petition that we’re to receive. We were just talking about that today, as a matter of fact, because there’s a litany of things from the act that they have to supply in that petition,” Harbach was quoted as saying.

Pennsylvania’s 12 casinos have until July 15 to turn in their applications. Once the deadline passes, they can apply for $4 million a-la-carte licenses for online poker, online table games, or online slots.

What an iGaming license petition entails

As Harbach pointed out, the iGaming licenses for which casinos will petition require some extensive paperwork.

According to the Oct. 2017 legislation that expanded PA gambling to include iGaming, one of the things the petition must include is a list of the games the licensee plans to offer:

“An itemized list of the interactive games, including identifying what category each interactive game falls under, and any other game or games the slot machine licensee plans to offer through the slot machine licensee’s interactive gaming website for which authorization is being sought.”

If any changes are made to that list, the legislation states, then the licensee has to update the information.

Other interesting tidbits required for the petition are:

  • The licensee’s plan to hire employees for its online slot machine operations should “promote the representation of diverse groups and Commonwealth residents in the employment positions.”
  • The licensee should include an overview of how their license provide “economic benefits” to the Commonwealth
  • A rundown of how their online gaming operations centers will work, including detailed descriptions of “the slot machine licensee’s initial system of internal and accounting controls applicable to interactive gaming” and “… proposed standards to protect, with a reasonable degree of certainty, the privacy and security of its registered players.”

Launch date for iGaming still uncertain

According to the legislation, the June 15 deadline will be followed by the aforementioned 30 days of a-la-carte applications. That puts the application period at about three-and-a-half months from now.

It’s unclear at which point the online casinos will launch.

As for how PGCB will handle the issue of skins — how many sites one casino can operate under a single license — casinos have argued both sides of the issue. Parx is pleading for one site per casino and global operator 888 asking for multiple skins.

Early this month, PGCB Executive Director Kevin O’Toole seemed to indicate that multiple skins would be allowed, so long as each site included the licensed casino’s branding.

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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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