PGCB Reopens Online Casino Applications for Operators Outside PA (Updated Jan. 4)

Written By Chris Imperiale on December 27, 2022 - Last Updated on June 3, 2024
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The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced on Tuesday that it is reopening the petition period for qualified gaming entity (QGE) applications in the state. From Jan. 3, 2023 until March 3 operators can submit petitions for one of three different certificates available for Pennsylvania online casinos.

These QGEs differ from regular iGaming licenses because they don’t require any ties to a PA land-based casino. This allows various online casino providers that operate outside of PA the opportunity to also offer gambling through its apps in the Keystone State

There are a total of 12 remaining certificates in PA, each costing $4 million. The PGCB lists three for slots, three for table games and six left for PA online poker apps.

PGCB reopens online casino application process

QGEs give additional betting operators the ability to launch in PA without partnering with a retail casino already established here. They can essentially work under their own license, as opposed to claiming an online skin from a land-based license holder.

This process is permitted for the majority of legal online wagering, just not for sports betting.

Several notable operators looked to pass as QGEs within PA already and sent in applications in the past. This marks the second time the PGCB has opened the petition period. It did so in 2018, as well, when the board approved one entity. 

Golden Nugget and BetMGM were previous QGE applicants

That operator is actually Golden Nugget Casino, which is still in the process of getting fully permitted as a QGE.

BetMGM Casino also originally sent in its application in January 2019 as a QGE before switching gears. It eventually struck a deal with both Hollywood Casino Penn National and Morgantown to secure its online platforms, including an online sportsbook.

The Gaming Expansion Act of 2017 developed these additional ways for out-of-state gambling companies to debut their product. Overall, PA features 39 of these interactive gaming certificates, with 13 for each category (slots, table games, poker).

While most PA casinos gain access to the state through agreements with retail locations, there’s recent interest in some joining as QGEs according to the PGCB. Its Communications Director, Doug Harbach, provided a little background to PlayPennsylvania on the decision to open the application period again. He said:

 “So, since these are unused assets of the Commonwealth that could generate more revenue, we decided to reopen and allow any interested operators seek QGE status and see who has an interest.”

It appears it’s just a matter of time before new casino operators pop up on the list of applicants. Once there, it is tough to determine exactly when that app will actually hit the PA market for use. Harbach added: 

I can’t tell you how long it would take for an entity wanting to be a QGE to go live in PA. While QGEs are required to be licensed operators in other jurisdictions, so they know the licensing process, it’s difficult to say how long a background investigation will take.”

We’re witnessing that firsthand with Golden Nugget. The operator has been waiting patiently for some time now after paying the required $8 million to debut slots and table games through its online casino.

More PA online casinos on the way

Despite sending in its application in October 2018, things are looking up for Golden Nugget heading into the new year. With the recent news of DraftKings’ integration of Golden Nugget’s platform set to be finished in the second half of 2023, next year could be when PA bettors finally see Golden Nugget available.

Altogether, the state includes 18 total online casino skins under 10 land-based casino licensees. The PGCB previously mentioned in its latest annual report that the board could approve the debut of up to 10 more online casinos in the next 12 months

Aside from Golden Nugget, there are plenty of others waiting their turn, too. The applicants currently consist of operators like Fanatics Casino, Bally Casino and PlayStar Casino.

QGE applications in Pennsylvania

Since the new window reopened on Jan. 3, the following operators have applied for QGE status within PA:

  • Bally Casino

We will continue to keep PA bettors posted on any relevant news. We’ll update potential launches and as operators begin submitting their applications for QGE status.

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Chris Imperiale

Chris Imperiale is currently the managing editor of Catena Media's US online lottery site, PlayiLottery. He used to be the Managing Editor of PlayPennsylvania, covering legal sports betting and casino gambling in Pennsylvania and the Northeast US. He has a journalism degree from Rutgers University and was formerly on staff at Bleacher Report.

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