PA casinos can start applying for their licenses in April

Is An Answer On PA Online Gambling ‘Skins’ Close? Platform Providers Can Apply In June

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The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced today that platform providers for online gambling in the state can start submitting their applications on June 4.

That likely means we’re about to find out one of the biggest remaining questions for the Pennsylvania online casino industry: How many “skins,” or individually branded sites, can each licensee have?

The latest on PA online casinos

There has been a steady stream of news about PA online gambling of late.

The new news relates to the last of those items, which affects companies that will provide online casino platforms and products in the state.

Applying to be in PA

For companies that want to serve as an “Interactive Gaming Operator,” here are the steps, according to the PGCB:

  1. Once an application is submitted, the applicant will receive instructions for how to be fingerprinted.
  2. After the PGCB receives the fingerprint results and all other deficiencies in the application are cured, the application will be deemed complete.
  3.  The completed application for each individual and entity will undergo a background investigation.

Additionally, the setting of a date for applications is almost certainly a tell-tale sign that we’re close to a resolution on a big sticking point in the state.

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Skins in PA online casinos

Writing regulations isn’t always a terribly contentious process. But in PA, it has been on the issue of skins.

Some casinos in the state want to limit the number of casino websites each casino can deploy to one. Others want to follow the New Jersey online casino model, where multiple sites can exist under each license. For the state and the bottom line of the entire casino market, the latter is considered the better option.

The latest chatter came from two lawmakers responsible for the state’s 2017 online gambling law, who said they did not intend to limit skins in their legislation.

Does this mean the PGCB is on board? We may — or should — find out during a scheduled meeting of the board on April 4. Neither casinos nor platform providers may be interested in applying for licenses until the skins issue is settled.

That’s even more true for platform providers, who may have a limited avenue into the state if skins are limited. Their applications come at a pricetag of $1 million. That’s a lot of cash if you’re not even sure you can enter the market.

So, we’re almost to the endgame for skins. And then the rubber will start meeting the road for the future of PA online casinos.

- 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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