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Pennsylvania’s regulated online casino and poker sites are on track to launch before the end of the year, per comments from Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Executive Director Kevin O’Toole.
O’Toole told lawmakers at a recent House budget hearing that his agency is the process of drafting temporary regulations for online gambling in Pennsylvania, and that he expects the initial application period for licenses to operate online gambling sites to open in April.
More background on PA’s push into legal online gambling here.
PA is taking a unique approach to online gambling licensure.
Given the cost of licenses and the fact that several operators (Parx, Penn National, and Rivers) operate multiple casinos in the state, there are likely to be some leftover license slots for out-of-state entities.
One fundamental question left up to regulators that remains unanswered: How many unique brands can operate under a single license?
In NJ’s online casino market, master licenses are limited to the state’s land-based operators. But each master license holder is allowed to enter into partnerships with several unique brands to operate under that license.
The lack of clarity on this issue in PA is almost certainly impacting the broader licensure and partnership pictures.
Some smaller casinos in the state might pass on a pricey license without the ability to generate additional revenue from subleasing the license. Some out-of-state entities may be holding out on finalizing deals with land-based casinos until they understand precisely what paths to market they have available.
One of the more interesting dynamics of the PA online casino market is the relative lack of information regarding alliances between the state’s land-based casinos and technology partners.
Right now, only a handful of partnerships are set in stone.
Further complicating the situation is the incredible amount of ownership turnover the state’s casino industry has experienced in the last few months.
Nearly a quarter of the state’s casinos have changed hands since December, with the sale of Sands Bethlehem to an affiliate of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians of Alabama being the most recent transaction.
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