PGCB Clears The Way For Outside Companies To Get Into PA Online Gambling

Written By Joss Wood on September 12, 2018
shoveled sidewalk surrounded by snow

This morning the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) approved the interactive license applications by Hollywood Casino and SugarHouse Casino.

The approvals are subject to meeting certain conditions, but both casinos are expected to get their internet gaming operations up and running as soon as possible.

The PGCB also decided to put the remaining interactive gaming license up for purchase by any qualified gaming entity (QGE). The licenses will be awarded in a random draw at a date to be determined.

PGCB has now approved five online operators in Pennsylvania

At its last meeting on August 15, the PGCB approved the Harrah’s Casino, Parx Casino and Mount Airy to offer interactive gaming.

All three were approved to conduct:

  • Slot machines
  • Table games
  • Online poker

SugarHouse and Hollywood also have all three licenses, so although Sugarhouse doesn’t yet offer poker, it has paid for the license. Watch this space.

The PGCB now has seven unpurchased interactive gaming licenses:

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

The extra license for online poker is because Presque Isle Downs only applied for slots and table games licenses.

Who passed up on PA interactive gaming licenses?

The only two Pennsylvania casinos that have not applied for any of the online licenses are The Meadows Racetrack & Casino and Lady Luck Casino.

Churchill Downs, which owns Presque Isle Downs is about to take over managing Lady Luck, so it seems that Lady Luck won’t be going online itself. Churchill can use its Presque Isle licenses for its online operations and promote them through Lady Luck.

The Meadows is leased by Penn National. As mentioned, it already has licenses through Hollywood Casino, so it too will probably not apply. At $4 million for each license, it is not a cheap process.

The PGCB meeting explained that any QGE could enter the random draw for the remaining licenses. That means that it is now possible for an interactive license to be acquired by an organization that is not a licensed Pennsylvania casino.

What outside entities can apply to go online in PA?

The PGCB regulations state that a QGE must satisfy the following requirements:

“(1) It is licensed in good standing in another gaming jurisdiction.

(2) The licensing standards of that other gaming jurisdiction are comprehensive and thorough and provide similar safeguards as those required by this Commonwealth.

(3) The petitioner has the business experience and expertise to operate an interactive gaming system.”

There are a bunch of other requirements that QGEs must complete. Even so, the basic definition encompasses a lot of potential providers. The remaining licenses will be issued at a date the PGCB hasn’t yet decided, but it won’t be a big surprise if there is a big surprise.

It is noticeable that the PGCB has adopted this procedure for the interactive licenses. Meanwhile, it has left the issue of the remaining mini-casino licenses hanging.

At the Cat 4 license auction on April 18, no bids were received for the remaining five licenses. Since then, the PGCB appears to have parked the issue.

Rush Street Interactive is ready to go with PlaySugarHouse

SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia is owned by Rush Street Gaming. The company’s Rush Street Interactive (RSI) division will oversee online gambling. RSI President Richard Schwartz told the PGCB that the company was “ready to go” with its online gaming platform.

RSI developed its platform in-house to host both real money and social gaming. The platform is a proven real-money entity in New Jersey under the PlaySugarhouse brand. It is also operating in Colombia, the first South American country to explicitly license and regulate online gambling.

In New Jersey, PlaySugarhouse offers online casino and sports betting. The company launched its online sportsbook on Aug. 23. Technology provider Kambi worked with the casino to develop the product. The NJ product was the first one to offer casino and sports on the same online app. However, the app does not offer online poker.

Penn National’s Hollywood Casino will offer online poker in 2019

In making its license approval case to the PGCB, the Hollywood Casino at the Penn National racetrack confirmed that it will be offering online poker and live dealer games sometime in 2019.

This is the first time that Penn National has officially confirmed that online poker will be part of its interactive product suite.

Penn National has set up its own interactive division to handle its online operations. It should launch a full suite of online gambling products either later this year, or early in 2019.

Penn’s new primary technology partner is IGTGeoComply is also on board to confirm that online players are within the state borders. Aristotle will help with age and ID verification.

While IGT is not a big poker brand today, the company was built on poker and released an updated online poker platform at the G2E conference in 2016.

Boyd Gaming approved to take over Valley Forge

The acquisition of the Valley Forge Casino by Boyd Gaming has been on the books for several months. Finally, the PGCB has given its go ahead.

Boyd is now part of a deal with MGM and GVC which could see playMGM and partypoker brands come to Pennsylvania. It will definitely mean FanDuel is coming to the state.

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Joss Wood

Joss Wood has a master’s degree in organisational development from the University of Manchester as well as an English degree from the University of Birmingham and also earned. His writing primarily centers on international online gambling markets, though he also writes about the legal US online gambling industry in addition to sports betting and esports gambling.

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