Valley Forge appeared to have a deal with GVC/PartyPoker at one point

Breaking Down The PA Online Gambling Market: Valley Forge Casino

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Pennsylvania recently legalized online poker and casino games. This is the second in a series of articles about the casinos in Pennsylvania and their possible place in the online gambling market.

History of Valley Forge Casino

Valley Forge Casino Resort is a recent addition to the Pennsylvania casino market. The only younger facility is the state’s other Category 3 casino, Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin.

Valley Forge was awarded the first Category 3 casino license by the state way back in 2009, but its license was immediately challenged in court by the nearby Parx Casino.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court eventually ruled in favor of Valley Forge in the case, but the court battle stalled the opening of Valley Forge. The casino finally opened its doors to the public in March of 2012.

Land-based performance

Before delving into Valley Forge’s performance to date it’s important to explain its Category 3 license.

A Category 3 “resort” casino license has several stipulations.

  • Unless they’re already a hotel guest (Valley Forge has two hotels with close to 500 rooms between them), casino patrons are required to spend $10 on non-gaming amenities or purchase a “membership” to the casino.
  • The number of slots on property are limited to 600 and table games to 50.

The property currently boasts the maximum allowable gaming spots for a Category 3 casino, 600 slot machines and 50 table games.

But like the amenity requirement, that could be changing.

Given its Category 3 designation, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Valley Forge ranks 11th out of Pennsylvania’s 12 casinos in terms of revenue. That said, it’s not all that far behind Presque Isle, a much larger Category 1 racino.

Further, there are new provisions included in the gaming law that benefit category 3 casinos. That means Valley Forge is poised to become a much bigger factor in the market.

Several provisions in the new law allow Valley Forge to increase the number of slot machines and table games for separate one-time fees. The law also removes the amenity requirement for another one-time fee of $1 million, which Valley Forge already paid.

What we know about Valley Forge and online gambling

Valley Forge has supported online gambling from the outset.

During a 2014 Pennsylvania Senate hearing, Robert Pickus, the chairman of the board of directors of Valley Forge, testified about the benefits of Pennsylvania being a first adopter of online gambling.

The casino has been a vocal supporter throughout the process.

Most likely platform provider

Valley Forge doesn’t have an official online gambling partner, but the available evidence points to the casino’s partner being GVC/PartyPoker.

In 2015, (now GVC) announced it had partnered with an unnamed Pennsylvania casino.

Subsequent comments by Pickus, and process of elimination, signaled that Valley Forge was PartyPoker’s unnamed partner. Sources later told GamblingCompliance that the rumor was true.

Whether the agreement is still in place following the takeover by GVC is anyone’s guess.

In-state partnerships/relationships

At present, Valley Forge doesn’t have a relationship with any other Pennsylvania casinos.

However, GVC may want to expand its reach in Pennsylvania and partners with other operators in the state. That would likely result in some level of intrastate networking with Valley Forge.

Possible out-of-state partnerships/relationships

If Valley Forge does partner with GVC/PartyPoker, the casino would have the opportunity to enter into a liquidity sharing agreement with Borgata/MGM in New Jersey.

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Forecasting Valley Forge’s online gambling performance

Valley Forge has several things working against it when it comes to iGaming:

  • The casino is near the bottom in terms of revenue. That will make it difficult to dedicate money to marketing campaigns in what will be a hyper-competitive market.
  • It’s also near the bottom when it comes to foot traffic.
  • It lacks the local PA brand recognition of Parx, Sands or Harrah’s.
  • It’s not a national casino corporation, which limits its wider brand recognition and attractiveness as an online gambling partner.

Because of these factors, the success of Valley Forge will largely be determined by its online partner and its ability to join intrastate and interstate networks.

Read more about Parx Casino.

Image by the Montgomery County Planning Commission used under license CC BY-SA 2.0

- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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