Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has just started to wrap its head around new gaming options in the state

How Fast For PA Online Poker? ‘It’s Impossible To Put Any Timetable’ On Gaming Expansions

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In Pennsylvania, it’s going to be hurry up and wait for legal online poker and casinos.

While the state just legalized online gambling and a host of other expansions of gaming, PA’s regulators are being cautious about how quickly any of it will happen.

‘Impossible’ to put a timetable on gaming

It’s been just over a week Pennsylvania passed a massive gaming bill that legalized, among other things, iGaming.

While it’s one thing to pass a law, turning that law into reality will take a lot of effort from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. It has a variety of topics to which it must turn its attention in the coming months beyond online gambling, including but not limited to daily fantasy sports, video gaming terminals and satellite casinos.

All that means a lot of work, and a lot of time. More from WITF’s Katie Meyer in talking with PGCB spokesperson Doug Harbach:

“It’s impossible to put any timetable right now on all of this,” he said. “But suffice it to say, it’s going to take months, and, in some cases, closer to a year on some of them to try and get everything out.”

While Harbach didn’t mention any of the expansions by name, he made it pretty clear that PGCB’s plate will be full. And we also know that regulation of online gambling is not exactly an easy task logistically, even with the template provided by online casinos in neighboring New Jersey.

Another PGCB spokesperson said recently that sports betting is also on its radar and could be ready to go sometime in 2018.

PGCB meets, talks expansion briefly

The PGCB also met on Wednesday for the first since the gaming bill was enacted last week.

Executive Director Kevin O’Toole gave a short report to the board about the law and what was to come, but didn’t get much into details.

“I would like to brieffly talk about those two words that are ringing in all of your ears: ‘gambling expansion,’ ” O’Toole said in addressing the board.

“[The law] also requires extraordinary dedication and commitment of board staff to see that the mandates of the new law are fulfilled,” O’Toole said. “I would like to take this opportunity to express my confidence to you that the staff of the PA Gaming Control Board will work diligently to successfully implement the new gaming options.”

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The best guess for PA online gambling?

The state passed the gaming expansion to get money flowing quickly into the state, to plug a shortfall in the budget. A lot of that money will come from initial licensing in the state for many of the new gaming options, including perhaps more than $100 million from online gambling licenses.

Of all the options, online gambling is the one mostly likely to provide real recurring revenue in the short term.

Satellite casinos will need to be built. The rollout of VGTs will take time and may have a minimal impact on the state in terms of revenue. DFS doesn’t provide much in the way of real revenue for the state.

That could mean that there is impetus to roll out online gambling more quickly. Early in the second half of 2018 is a possibility, but it’s still going to be a waiting game, for now.

- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. He has played poker recreationally for his entire adult life and has written about poker since 2008.
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