Here’s what we know, and what we can glean about possible online gaming partnerships between Pennsylvania’s 12 land-based casinos and online gaming platform providers, as well as any in-state and cross-border partnerships they may be able to foster.
Parx sits near the New Jersey/Pennsylvania border between Philadelphia and Trenton.
Parx is one of the largest casinos in the state, with some 3,300 slot machines and more than 100 table games, so it’s not surprising that Parx Casino is the king (with Sands Bethlehem a close second) when it comes to PA gaming revenue.
Even though the casino has been somewhat noncommittal when it comes to online gambling, Parx signed an exclusive multi-year agreement with GAN in November 2014.
The agreement began with GAN rolling out Parx’s social casino, but it also covered real-money online gambling (casino and poker) should Pennsylvania pass legislation.
Per a press release in March 2015:
“Throughout the multi-year term of the agreement, Parx Casino will rely exclusively on GameAccount Network’s Internet gaming system, deployed on-property in Pennsylvania, for all forms of real money Internet gaming (including poker, for the avoidance of doubt) in the event the State of Pennsylvania enacts legislation to regulate real money Internet gaming.”
There are no known ties between Parx and New Jersey casinos, but Parx’s proximity to New Jersey and its volume of business will likely make it an attractive partner if an interstate agreement between New Jersey and Pennsylvania is realized.
Parx’s online gaming partner, GAN, does have New Jersey ties through Betfair’s online casino, and has been actively pursuing other opportunities in legal US markets.
Mount Airy is a mid-sized casino located in the Pocono region. The casino features about 1,800 slot machines and around 70 table games.
In a 2015 hearing in front of the Gaming Oversight committee, All American Poker Network Executive Chairman David Licht let the proverbial cat out of the bag, telling Pennsylvania lawmakers 888 (the online element of the AAPN) had partnered with Mount Airy Casino.
With an official deal in place, Mount Airy has been advertising 888’s New Jersey online casino online and on-property for quite some time.
Mount Airy may not have a presence in other online gaming states, but its partner 888 has plenty of ties in New Jersey – where it’s partnered with several Caesars properties as well as having its own 888-branded online poker and casino site – and beyond.
888 is also active in Delaware and Nevada and will likely be a leading voice for interstate agreements in Pennsylvania.
Located in Chester (just outside Philadelphia), Harrah’s offers slot machines and table games to go along with its live and simulcast racing.
There hasn’t been an official declaration, but it would be quite a shock if Harrah’s didn’t team up with 888 in Pennsylvania.
Harrah’s is owned and operated by parent company Caesars, which is partnered with 888 in New Jersey and in Nevada. With a solid history (and recently surging revenue numbers in New Jersey) 888 provides familiarity, and perhaps more importantly, opportunity should interstate agreements emerge.
A partnership with 888 would allow Harrah’s to create an in-state online poker network with Mount Airy, which could help the two mid-size casinos compete with some of the bigger names in the market.
And as noted above, 888 is active in every state that has legal online gambling, including New Jersey, where Caesars Entertainment is partnered with 888. This bodes well for interstate compacts.
Beyond New Jersey, both 888 and Harrah’s are well-positioned for further expansion.
Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs is located in Wilkes-Barre, and boasts 2,300 slot machines and more than 75 table games. The casino is also one of the few in Pennsylvania with a hotel.
Because of its ties to PokerStars and NYX Gaming (more on this in a moment), these are the two partnership possibilities most often linked to Mohegan Sun in Pennsylvania.
This is particularly true of PokerStars, as it would open up interstate online poker opportunities.
As mentioned above, Mohegan Sun has strong ties to Atlantic City, as the company handles the day-to-day operations of Resorts Casino.
Mohegan’s flagship casino is located in a state that is also considered a contender for online gaming legalization, Connecticut.
Located in the heart of Philadelphia, SugarHouse has an enviable location. And after a massive $160 million project that was completed in 2016, the Rush Street-owned casino has gone from a middling player in Pennsylvania to one of the state’s top revenue generators.
Rush Street also owns Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh.
We have a good idea of how the casino will approach online gambling in Pennsylvania, as SugarHouse is already involved in online gambling in neighboring New Jersey.
Operating on the Rush Street Interactive platform, the PlaySugarHouse.com online casino is operating under the Golden Nugget’s license in New Jersey, and has carved out a decent market share in its short existence.
After a successful launch in New Jersey, Rush Street Interactive will surely handle SugarHouse’s Pennsylvania online gambling websites (as well as Rivers).
With its presence in New Jersey, SugarHouse is a prime candidate for cross-border liquidity sharing that could further bolster the likely intrastate network it will create with Rivers Casino.
I’d also expect SugarHouse to reciprocate Golden Nugget’s hospitality, and if allowed, provide a Pennsylvania home for Golden Nugget’s online casino, which is currently the only site in New Jersey that has live dealer games.
Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh is the third highest-grossing casino in Pennsylvania. The Rush Street property has nearly 3,000 slot machines and 100 table games to go along with a 30-table poker room.
With two strong casino brands, Rush Street Interactive will be well-positioned to become an online gaming powerhouse should Pennsylvania legalize online gambling.
The company has successfully launched in New Jersey, will add two Pennsylvania casinos to its roster, and also has properties in New York and Illinois, both of which (New York in particular) are seen as dominoes that will eventually fall.
Rivers Casino doesn’t have any direct New Jersey ties, but its parent company does through SugarHouse.
If Pennsylvania passes an online gambling bill, there will certainly be some type of partnership involving Rivers and SugarHouse in Pennsylvania. And should interstate agreements come about, you can potentially throw Golden Nugget into the mix.
Valley Forge is a Category 3 “resort” casino, which means it has multiple restrictions placed on it that other casinos don’t possess, including having its slots and table games limited to 600 and 50, respectively.
Despite the restrictions, and its somewhat out of the way location in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, Valley Forge does pretty well in the market.
The smart money says GVC (partypoker) will be the online gaming partner of Valley Forge.
Reason being, in 2015, bwin.party (now GVC) announced it had partnered with a Pennsylvania casino.
Through process of elimination, rumors, and some parsing of comments by Valley Forge’s Robert Pickus, the Pennsylvania casino appears to be Valley Forge.
However, after the sale of bwin.party to GVC it’s unclear if this partnership is still in place (assuming it ever was).
If Valley Forge does settle on GVC, there could be some ties to GVC’s New Jersey partner, Borgata.
GVC is also actively pursuing potential deals in other US online gambling markets.
Located at the iconic Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Hollywood Park Casino boasts 2,400 slot machines and roughly 50 table games.
The property is owned and operated by Penn National, which has a strong gaming and racing presence across the country.
Penn National has an online division (created in 2015) and is one of the stronger supporters of legal online gambling in Pennsylvania. That being said, we don’t know too much about its real-money online gambling plans, as the company has been mainly focused on social gaming up to this point.
Penn could “flip the switch” and turn its social offerings into a real-money online platform, or it could partner with any number of online gaming providers.
Penn National doesn’t have a presence in New Jersey, but it does operate a second Pennsylvania casino, Meadows Racetrack and Casino.
If Penn National decides to partner with an existing online gaming provider, the opportunity for interstate partnerships grows.
However, it could also sit tight and develop its own platform, since Penn National operates casinos in several other states that are considering online gaming legalization, most notably Massachusetts.
Located in Washington, Pennsylvania, Meadows Racetrack and Casino has an industry-high 3,500 slot machines but only 68 table games.
Meadows is another Penn National property, which means its online gaming ambitions in Pennsylvania will likely mirror Hollywood Casino’s.
As is the case with Hollywood Casino, Meadows’ potential for partnerships will have a lot to do with how Penn National addresses online gaming.
The Presque Isle racino is located in Erie, Pennsylvania.
With 1,700 slot machines, the facility is pretty large, but Presque Isle struggles to keep pace in terms of revenue with Valley Forge, a Category 3 casino.
Presque Isle has been relatively quiet when it comes to online gambling. Considering the casino’s size and lack of resources to compete with the bigger players in the market, it may decide to pass on launching an online gambling site.
One possibility is for Presque Isle to partner with another Pennsylvania property or an online gaming provider that could provide a turnkey platform the casino could use.
Until we find out if Presque Isle is going to launch an online gambling site, and who it partners with, there’s not much to say on this front.
Located in Farmington, Lady Luck is Pennsylvania’s other Category 3 “resort” casino.
Lady Luck and its 600 slot machines and couple dozen tables games is the cellar dweller of the industry, generating around $3 million per month in revenue.
By comparison, Parx and Sands are both over $40 million, and similarly-sized Valley Forge triples Lady Luck’s monthly revenue.
Like Presque Isle, there’s a good chance Lady Luck passes on online gambling.
The smallest casino in the state just doesn’t have the money or the brand to compete with the state’s other properties.
Until Lady Luck says otherwise, we should assume it’s not going to be a player in the online gaming market.
With 3,000 slot machines and over 200 table games, Sands Casino in the town of Bethlehem is a major player in the Pennsylvania casino market. But the casino won’t even be taking the field if Pennsylvania legalizes online gambling.
Sands Bethlehem is owned and operated by Las Vegas Sands Corp., which has been fighting against online gambling legalization since 2013.
The chances Sands launches an online gambling site are near zero.
Unless Sands changes its position, there’s no reason to speculate on potential partnerships.