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Another Step Forward For PA Online Gambling: Newest Regulations Surface

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This is a developing story and will be updated.

Online Poker Report has obtained the newest temporary regulations overseeing the Pennsylvania online gambling industry.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved two different sets of regulations related to online casinos and poker this week.

You can see them here and here.

Another set of regulations is expected to be approved at the PGCB’s meeting on April 2. It’s expected that regulators will address the issue of how many “skins” — or branded online casinos — licensees may have.

What’s in the PA iGaming regulations?

We already knew what was in the regulations in broad strokes thanks to the PGCB meeting this week. Now we know the exact contents.

The temporary regulations are not official until they are published in the PA Bulletin. The regulations did not yet appear in the most recently published Bulletin.

Online gambling security

The first set of regulations to surfaces deals with “interactive gaming platform requirements,” which are “intended to ensure players are not exposed to unnecessary security risks by choosing to participate in interactive gaming in this Commonwealth and to ensure the integrity and security of interactive gaming operations in this Commonwealth.”

Some of the provisions:

  • The PGCB must approve the location of servers for interactive gaming. The equipment to run games “may be located in a restricted area on the premises of the licensed facility,” but can also be in the same county or even elsewhere in the US, provided they meet PGCB minimum requirements. This would presumably allow any existing New Jersey online casino servers to be used for PA.
  • The security of servers is addressed at length, including a facility’s ability to “provide physical protection against damage from fire, flood, hurricane, earthquake and other forms of natural or man-made disaster.” It also talks about security as it pertains to how and which personnel can access servers. Licensees must keep a log of who accesses different parts of an interactive gaming system.
  • Licensees must have a “Disaster/Emergency Recovery Plan” in the event that a platform is rendered inoperable.
  • Platforms must be capable of allowing players to exclude themselves from playing.
  • Licensees must implement geolocation protocols that will not allow players to access online casinos or poker rooms from outside the state.
  • Platforms must include a “replay last game feature” that allows players to see previous outcomes.

In sum, they are mostly for the people who will be in charge of IT and security for casinos and their platform providers.

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Game testing, advertising and more

The other set of regulations deals with several different components of online gambling in the state:

This temporary rulemaking includes rules to ensure the integrity and security of interactive games, including live studio games, offered in this Commonwealth and the fairness and transparency of advertising, promotions and tournaments associated with interactive gaming in this Commonwealth.

“Live studio games” are games that have live dealers conducting the games for online players, such as roulette and blackjack. They are already offered in NJ via Golden Nugget and Betfair Casino.

More insights from the second set of regulations:

  • Paytables and game rules must to all slots and games must be made available for all registered players, even if they haven’t deposited. The rules go into great details about how games should be presented to players for transparency and accuracy.
  • Players, once inside a game, need to be provided with minimum amounts of information, including the name of the game being played, the player’s current balance, any restrictions in place, the amount won and lost in a session, among other information.
  • Random number generators must meet PGCB standards for determining game outcomes and be tested by a “gaming laboratory.”
  • Changes to any game must be approved by regulations.
  • Licensees must adopt and adhere to “comprehensive house rules governing wagering transactions” that can be easily found by players.
  • Advertising must meet minimum standards. Ads cannot target excluded players or consist of offensive material, for example.
  • Promotions run by online casino and poker operators must go through a vetting process in the state.
  • Licensees can ask for approval to offer live dealer games.
- 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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