Stadium Casino Is In A “Bit Of A Pickle” When It Comes To Online Casino

Written By Joss Wood on October 31, 2018
jar of pickles

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) authorized two more casinos to conduct online gaming at its monthly public meeting today.

Presque Isle Downs and Stadium Casino are both now permitted to offer online gaming subject to satisfying conditions set out by the Office of Enforcement Counsel (OEC).

Stadium Casino is in a bit of a pickle

The conditions are unavailable but would make fascinating reading in the case of Stadium Casino.

An attorney representing the company opened his statement by saying that the application had “placed Stadium Casino in a bit of a pickle.”

The Stadium representative explained that without employees or a presentation about future plans, Stadium was unable to present much of the information required.

There are rumors floating around that Stadium may decide to sell its Cat 1 casino license and abandon plans to build a new casino in Pennsylvania. The PGCB board heard nothing that would substantiate the rumors though.

Stadium abandons plans for online poker

One Stadium request was a little unusual. The company originally applied for all three interactive gaming licenses at a cost of $10 million for the bundle.

At the hearing, the Stadium attorney asked the PGCB board to approve an amendment to its application.

The amendment consisted of a request to abandon the peer-to-peer license application that would allow Stadium to offer online poker.

This saves Stadium only $2 million which is peanuts in the context of casino costs.

Stadium will be late to the market no matter what. After all, no interactive gaming will go ahead until the company has a bricks and mortar casino in operation.  Being late may mean that online poker is unlikely to be profitable.

The big online poker operators, PokerStars, 888, and partypoker all already have relationships with Pennsylvania casinos.

For Stadium to succeed with online poker it would need to find a poker partner capable of competing with the big three. Not impossible, but not easy either.

Stadium would also have to compete with major operators that will already have established their market share.

On the other hand, if Stadium really is considering a sale, why relinquish a license that a future owner might value?

The decision may imply that the rumors are not true and that Stadium is already thinking strategically about its market entry.

Presque Isle Downs makes its plans public

The second interactive license that the PGCB approved was for Presque Isle Downs. Like Stadium Casino, Presque Isle’s situation is complicated.

Presque Isle has agreed a sale of the casino to Churchill Downs and Eldorado Resorts. The sale is still awaiting final approval from the PGCB.

All being well, Presque Isle expects the deal to close by the end of this year.

Presque Isle Downs gave the PGCB a full presentation explaining its plans to launch online gaming with Churchill Downs.

Churchill Downs is the owner of the Kentucky Derby which it founded in 1875. Under the BetAmerica brand it already offers licensed online horse race and greyhound betting.

Presque explained that its Pennsylvania online gaming will be conducted under the BetAmerica brand. A full range of table games and slots will be on offer.

However, online poker won’t be part of the game portfolio as Presque only applied for table games and slots licenses.

Churchill Downs will launch in New Jersey by year-end

Justin Hurt, Churchill Downs VP business development for online gaming, explained that the company is also in the process of launching in New Jersey.

Churchill Downs has a partnership with the Golden Nugget and expects to begin offering online casino and sports betting by the end of this year.

That should give Pennsylvanians an early look at what the Presque Isle Downs/Churchill Downs combo can offer.

Launch in Pennsylvania will be sometime in early 2019.

The PGCB has now approved nine interactive gaming license holders;

That leaves Mohegan Sun Pocono as the only casino still unapproved by PGCB. The competition is heating up. The race to be first to launch is now on.

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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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