The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) meeting today, October 3, heard applications for two interactive gaming licenses. One from Valley Forge and one from the Sands Bethlehem.
The Sands presentation was not what the PGCB normally sees.
Wind Creek is buying Sands Bethlehem
The Sands rep explained that the Poarch Band of Creek Indians is buying the casino. Wind Creek Hospitality is paying $1.3 billion for its little piece of Pennsylvania, but the sale is not complete yet
On behalf of Wind Creek, the Sands submitted the interactive license application early to take advantage of the $2 million discount.
There are three license categories and early applicants could apply for all three for $10 million. Later applicants have to pay $4 million for each license.
As a result, Sands applied without any knowledge of what plans Wind Creek had. A Wind Creek rep explained that the company was focused on the acquisition and didn’t itself know what it planned to do.
Neither Sands nor Wind Creek could tell the PGCB anything other than that they wanted the interactive gaming licenses and would comply with PGCB regulations in the future. Should they not utilize the license, the $10 million fee is non-refundable and the license wil lbe forfetied.
Sands is a forceful opponent of online gambling
More reasons for embarrassment come from the Sands well-known and emphatic opposition to online gaming. Chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, Sheldon Adelson, is the major funder of attempts to “restore the Wire Act.”
Adelson wants nothing to do with online gambling, so it is just a little disconcerting that his company has to apply for online gaming licenses. Of course, this is all just part of the sale deal. Nevertheless, it put the PGCB into a quandary.
The PGCB asked straight out what would happen if the deal fell through. Sands replied that it would not use the licenses.
Even after paying $10 million it would not introduce online gaming in Pennsylvania.
Despite the lack of information, the PGCB voted unanimously to approve the issue of an interactive gaming certificate.
Valley Forge and FanDuel
The second application from Valley Forge brought the PGCB back to familiar territory. Valley Forge has partnered with FanDuel, which is already licensed to offer fantasy sports in Pennsylvania.
Valley Forge produced a full presentation with all of its plans well in hand.
The interactive gaming licenses don’t include sports betting which costs an extra $10 million, but Valley Forge confirmed that it will be introducing internet sports betting in due course.
Valley Forge listed its online partners as:
- FanDuel—primary internet gaming partner also responsible for online sports betting
- IGT—Responsible for the iGaming platform
- GAN—Responsible for all player account functions including risk management
- GeoComply—experts in geolocation
- Aristotle—Responsible for age and identity verification
The multi-partner approach is now the standard way for US casinos to introduce internet gaming and sports betting.
Valley Forge could launch internet gambling as soon as November.
PGCB may delay sports betting at the South Philadelphia Turf Club
One issue which surprised the sports betting presentation team from Parx was the suggestion that approval for the Turf Club would have to wait on success at the Parx Casino.
The Office of Enforcement Counsel (OEC) said that its support was conditional on Parx proving that its new technology worked. This caused some discussion because the Parx lawyer pointed out that the law made no such requirement.
The OEC claimed that it was a necessary precaution given that the technology was new. This issue wasn’t really resolved in the public hearing.
If this becomes PGCB policy it could mean that other interactive gaming plans might face the same delays. If so, the sports betting rollout to come even later into the football season. Currently, Parx hopes to go mobile by January.
The PGCB’s next meeting is at the end of October when it will pass judgment on several more interactive and sports betting license applications. We may get a clearer picture of possible delays then.
There are now seven interactive licenses approved by the PGCB:
- Harrah’s Philadelphia
- Hollywood Casino
- Mount Airy Casino
- Parx Casino
- Sands Bethlehem
- SugarHouse Casino
- Valley Forge Casino
Four casinos still have pending applications:
- Mohegan Sun Pocono
- Presque Isle Downs (no online poker)
- Rivers Casino
- Stadium Casino which has not yet finished construction
Seven more licenses may be issued to Qualified Gaming Entities through a random draw to be held on a date to be announced.