Online Poker Report

Boyd Gaming CEO On PA Entry: ‘Online Gaming Is Important To Us’

Valley Forge online casino

A panel of Boyd Gaming executives appeared before the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board on Wednesday, seeking the Board’s approval of its $280 million purchase of Valley Forge Casino.

During its presentation, the subject of online gambling came up multiple times.

Boyd Gaming President and CEO Keith Smith touted the opportunity to offer online gaming as one of the reasons Boyd targeted Valley Forge.

“Online gaming is important to us,” Smith told the PGCB.

Smith went on to detail the company’s online gaming experience in New Jersey. Prior to selling its 50 percent stake, Boyd ran the Borgata online casino for three years, He said Boyd is looking forward to launching an online gaming website in Pennsylvania.

The Boyd executives also pointed to several other opportunities:

  • The potential for legal sports betting in Pennsylvania;
  • Reestablishing Boyd Gaming’s footprint in the Northeast and cross-market to other Boyd casinos;
  • Opportunity to bid on Category 4 casinos.

The PGCB approved the operator change request shortly after the Boyd Gaming presentation.

Valley Forge, at a glance

In addition to online gaming opportunities, Valley Forge has benefited from the gaming law that passed last October more than any other casino.

Several provisions in the new law were designed to increase revenue at the state’s two Category 3 casinos: Valley Forge and Lady Luck Nemacolin.

The biggest change was the removal of the so-called amenity fee requirement at Category 3 casinos.

For a one-time payment of $1 million, Valley Forge was able to scrap the requirement that required anyone stepping onto the casino floor to either be a guest of the hotel or pay a fee to use the property’s amenities. The fee acted as a de facto cover charge to gamble at Valley Forge.

As Valley Forge Casino Resort President and CEO Eric Pearson said:

“Since opening five years ago, we have been constrained by the amenities requirements and membership fees which have confused and frustrated our guests. We are thrilled to be able to welcome our guests to our casino in the same manner as the other Pennsylvania casinos. Lifting this special requirement for guests to enter the casino allows us to better serve our existing guests, and puts us in a better position to attract new visitors to our property.”

In addition to the amenity fee, Valley Forge is also allowed to increase its maximum number of slot machines and table games to better compete with other Pennsylvania casinos. Like the amenity fee, the increase requires a one-time payment to the state:

  • $2.5 million to add up to 250 slot machines
  • $1 million to add up to 15 table games

Unsurprisingly, revenue at Valley Forge has grown by double digits in recent months.

PA online gambling market coming into focus

The Boyd comments bring even more clarity to the future Pennsylvania online gambling market.

With Las Vegas Sands selling Sands Bethlehem, most if not all of the casinos are going to be willing participants in online gaming.

However, most of the partnerships between Pennsylvania land-based casinos and online gaming platform providers are still unofficial. Only a few formal partnerships are official.

Who’s in?

They are:

  • Parx Casino and GAN
  • SugarHouse Casino and Rush Street Interactive
  • Rivers Casino and Rush Street Interactive

Maybe…

That said, there are a number of widely rumored partnerships.

They are:

  • Valley Forge Casino and PartyPoker/GVC
  • Mount Airy Casino and 888
  • Mohegan Sun Casino and Scientific Games/NYX
  • Meadows Casino and Scientific Games/NYX
  • Hollywood Casino and Scientific Games/NYX
  • Harrah’s Casino and 888

That leaves three casinos without a link to an online gambling partner.

We don’t know

They are:

The belief is, partnerships will become official now that the PGCB made a final decision on the number of online gambling skins each licensee can launch.

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Steve Ruddock
- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.