Pennsylvania to open out-of-state online gambling license derby


pennsylvania-online-gambling-license-approvalPennsylvania regulators have approved two more online gambling license applications while preparing to offer the few remaining licenses to out-of-state or even international operators.

Wednesday’s meeting of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) saw two more of the state’s casinos – Penn National Gaming’s Hollywood Casino and Rush Street Gaming’s SugarHouse – win the right to operate in the state’s imminent online gambling market.

Both operators sought the right to offer online slots, table games and poker, and brought the number of approved online licensees to five, following last month’s approval of the companies behind the Parx, Harrah’s and Mount Airy casinos.

Rush Street’s presentation touted its online gambling experience, having launched PlaySugarHouse across the border in New Jersey two years ago. PNG’s pitch surprised some observers by confirming its online tech will be supplied by International Game Technology rather than Scientific Games, which currently powers PNG’s social gaming site

Eleven of the state’s 13 casino licensees have applied to offer online gambling, and all of them save Presque Isle Downs have applied to offer all three verticals (Presque Isle opted to ignore poker). That leaves three online poker, two slots and two table licenses left unclaimed, but probably not for long.

Under the regulations Pennsylvania legislators approved last year, the unallocated licenses will now be offered to other ‘qualified gaming entities’ (QGEs) that wish to splash in the state’s online pool. The PGCB issued details on this process at Thursday’s meeting.

Interested QGE’s – who don’t have to be American, but don’t tell Trump, otherwise he’ll slap a tariff on this – will be asked to submit their petitions between October 15-31, after which the PGCB will vet the petitions, and everyone deemed to have passed regulatory muster will face a ‘blind random drawing,’ the winners of which will be given 45 days in which to file an online application.

The PGCB has yet to announce a formal target for when the state’s online gambling market might launch, but the timeline for the leftover licenses suggests it may not be this year. New Jersey’s online market opted for a uniform launch for all its initial licensees in order to sure no operator got a first-mover advantage.

Sadly, the PGCB opted not to act on the sports betting petitions filed by Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment (who operate Parx) and PNG. Board spokesman Doug Harbach said Tuesday that the PGCB was “just not to the point of these being ripe for a board decision.”

The PGCB did find time to issue a $50k fine against Downs Racing, which operates the Mohegan Sun Pocono Casino, for continuing to serve booze to two visibly intoxicated patrons who were also allowed to continue participating in gaming activity while visibly intoxicated.