PA online gambling set to launch later this year

Start Your Engines: PA Casinos Can Apply For Online Gambling Licenses Next Month

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Pennsylvania casinos are a month away from being able to declare their intentions when it comes to online gambling.

The PA Gaming Control Board announced that casinos in the state can start applying for “Interactive Gaming Certificates” in the state starting next month. That will eventually allow them to offer some combination of online slots, table games and poker.

That news comes after the head of the PGCB said that PA was on track for a launch of online gambling in 2018 after a law enacted in 2017.

The news on PA online gambling

Online gambling applications will be accepted in the state starting on April 16, the PGCB related via a press release on Wednesday. The initial application period for online gambling will be open for a period for 120 days.

At the start — for the first 90 days — casinos can only apply for the overarching certificates that would allow casinos to offer all types of iGaming, at a cost of $10 million per license. Here’s how the PGCB classifies what casinos can offer under this omnibus license:

  • Peer-to-peer interactive games where players compete directly against other players, like poker.
  • Non-peer-to-peer interactive games where players compete against the dealer’s hand, which simulate table games.
  • Non-peer-to-peer interactive games which simulate slot machines.

For the next 30 days after that, casinos can buy “a la carte” licenses to offer one or more of the above categories, at a pricetag of $4 million each. Casinos can apply for just a slots license, for example, or for slots and table games.

How many licenses are there?

There is one interactive gaming certificate available for:

  1. Each casino licensee in the state and
  2. For each of the three types of gaming.

Some quick math means there are 39 certificates available.

That number of casino licensees currently stands at 13. There are 12 existing casinos and one on the way in Philadelphia’s stadium district.

That means that the state could hand out 13 of the overarching interactive licenses or 39 of the piecemeal licenses. Chances are the actual result will be somewhere in the middle, with some casinos opting for full licenses with others only going after one or two of the gaming options.

What happens after that in PA?

Once the initial 120-day period is up, other entities beyond PA casinos may apply for the certificates. The PGCB “may authorize a qualified gaming” to apply for iGaming “upon a finding of suitability.”

That potentially opens up online gambling to a wide variety of gaming companies, should any of the certificates go unclaimed.

The PGCB meets again on Wednesday, March 21, when iGaming could come up.

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Dominoes will start falling in PA

Most casinos have been mum about their online gambling plans in the state in the wake of the 2017 law, although we have pieced together some of the PA online gambling partnerships.

Once casinos have to apply for licenses and start making their intentions publicly known, there will be more reason for those companies to reveal their next steps.

Four of the state’s existing casinos have changed hands in recent months, with those acquisitions at least partially based on the iGaming opportunity in the state.

- 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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