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It’s been more than three months since Pennsylvania legalized online gambling. While the state made some progress — it instituted some temporary regulations and made applications for certain online gaming licenses available — there are still a lot of unknowns.
Hashing out all of the regulatory and licensing details has proven problematic. The state’s 12 casinos are drawing fault lines. Some are lobbying for a strict limitation on the number of branded websites; others advocate for a more open model.
The temporary regulations don’t expressly cover this issue. Without clarity, many stakeholders are playing their cards close to the vest when it comes to online partnerships.
With Pennsylvania’s legal online gambling sites expected to launch sometime in 2018’s second half, here’s a look at what we know and don’t know about these partnerships.
Four partnerships are pretty much set in stone:
Rush Street Gaming operates two Pennsylvania casinos, SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia and Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh. Both will use the company’s proprietary online gambling software, developed by Rush Street Interactive.
A partnership between Mount Airy Casino Resort and 888 has been in place since at least 2014.
The agreement wasn’t public knowledge until David Licht, the executive chairman of the All American Poker Network (the name of 888’s US-facing network at the time), announced the partnership during a 2015 Pennsylvania online gambling hearing.
There’s no reason to think the partnership is no longer in place. Mount Airy is still advertising and running promos for 888’s New Jersey online casino on its website.
Parx has acted as something of an obstructionist when it comes to online gambling. Still, the casino plans on being a part of the market.
Parx is also one of the few casinos with a known online gambling partner. It signed an exclusive multi-year agreement with GAN in November 2014.
“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 reasons to suspect these five partnerships are in place:
We know PartyPoker (now owned by GVC) entered a partnership with a Pennsylvania casino in 2015. The best guess at the time was Valley Forge. Considering the casino’s continued advocacy for online gambling, it’s likely the partnership is still in place.
In Pennsylvania, we expect Harrah’s to take advantage of the state’s bifurcated licensing system and choose NYX for online casino and 888 for online poker. That would provide Harrah’s with the best of both worlds.
NYX is a top-tier online casino platform, perhaps the best in the US market, while 888 is active in every state with online poker. It’s the only company that make such a claim. That would allow Harrah’s to share online poker liquidity, should Pennsylvania join the Nevada–Delaware-New Jersey multi state poker association.
After acquiring Pinnacle, Penn National now operates two Pennsylvania casinos: Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course and Meadows Racetrack and Casino.
Online Poker Report is hearing rumors Penn National and Scientific Games/NYX have partnered in Pennsylvania. If true, both Hollywood Casino and Meadows will likely operate on NYX’s online casino platform.
OPR is also hearing Mohegan Sun will migrate its New Jersey partnership with NYX to Pennsylvania.
Given NYX’s reputation and track record, continuing the partnership makes perfect sense for Mohegan Sun. And it solidifies NYX as the top online casino platform in the US.
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Finally, there are three casinos in the Pennsylvania market about which we know very little:
Assuming PokerStars doesn’t try to procure an unclaimed license, it will probably look to partner with one of the state’s smaller casinos, like Presque Isle or Lady Luck.
PokerStars isn’t the typical white-label platform provider looking for a brand. The company seeks to advance its brand in the US market, and it’s unlikely a well-known casino brand would be interested in taking a backseat to PokerStars.
On their own, Lady Luck and Presque Isle might not even launch an online gambling site. The money involved and the eventual return might keep them out of the market … unless a company like PokerStars comes along and foots the bill, kicking a percentage of its revenue back to the casino.
Sands Bethlehem stands as the true wild card in Pennsylvania.
The company has fought tooth and nail to prevent online gambling from spreading across the US. Now, it must deal with the hard reality that it operates a casino in what will be a robust online casino market.
Sands might sit on the sidelines, but it probably won’t. As crazy as it sounds, there’s a good chance Sands launches an online gambling website.
Failing to procure an online gambling license would:
It’s unclear who might power Sands online casino site.