New PA Online Casino Regs Open The Door For Out-Of-State Servers

Written By Katie Callahan on March 26, 2018 - Last Updated on August 9, 2022
modem cabbles plugged into computer server

The latest Pennsylvania gaming regulations answered some questions pertaining to security, integrity, advertising, and location of the servers for the forthcoming online gambling sites in the Keystone State. However, there are still several unanswered questions, namely how many skins each license can have.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) approved preliminary online casino and poker regulations this week. Both are temporary regulations but deal with interactive gaming testing and controls and interactive gaming platform requirements, reported Online Poker Report.

Even with the establishment of these regulations, they are not official until published in the PA Bulletin, from which they are currently absent.

Player exposure to risks

The scope of the recent regulations deals primarily with the security and integrity of the interactive gaming operations and how they impact the player.

Things of note:

  • Server location
  • Server security
  • Platform inoperability
  • Player access

Equipment for interactive gaming (e.g., servers) may be in a restricted area of the licensed facility. These must be approved but could be anywhere in the U.S. as long as they meet PGCB requirements. This is a big departure from regulations in Nevada and New Jersey which require servers to be located in the same state as the operators. It also opens the doors for Pennsylvania casinos to partner with NJ operators without having to set up entirely different servers and equipment.

Server security addresses physical protection of equipment from natural disaster as well as man-made disasters. Additionally, the licensee must also be wary of personnel access to the server and keep a log of access to the various parts of the system. In the event of any sort of issue, the licensee must have a recovery plan for any of the above concerns.

Per the new regulations, players can exclude themselves from playing and replay previous outcomes. Geolocation protocols will not allow players to access these online casinos or poker rooms outside of the state.

Mainly though, these regulations will put the onus on the licensee’s IT and security staff and the platform providers to “ensure the integrity and safety of interactive gaming operations in the Commonwealth.”

The security and integrity regulations include controls for equipment, system requirements, software disclosures, shutdown and recovery standards as well.

Second set of regulations start to standardize

The other set of regulations from PGCB make more information available to players.

Even if players haven’t deposited, they should have access to paytables and game rules. Players should also receive the minimum amounts of information required to play the game once inside of a game. This includes:

  • Name of the game
  • Player’s current balance
  • Restrictions in place
  • Amount won and lost per session

Other information comes along with these items, but regulators must approve any changes to any of game. A gaming laboratory must test random number generators. The PGCB standards apply to these random number generators as they determine game outcomes.

In turn, the licensee must also abide by certain “comprehensive house rules governing wagering transactions.” As is the theme, the players must be able to find these rules. Licensees can also ask for approval for live dealer games, or games with live dealers that are conducted online.

Promos and ads will need PGCB approval

Beyond that, ads must meet minimum standards without being exclusive or offensive. Additionally, promotions must be vetted by the state.

The goal of the PGCB is transparency and accuracy.

The next PGCB meeting April 2 will hopefully set regulations for how many branded online casinos (“skins”) the licensees may have.

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Katie Callahan

Katie Callahan is a freelance journalist, blogger and copywriter who covers everything from poker, business, education and politics to construction, startups and cybersecurity.

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