The 90-Day Window For PA Casinos To Petition For Online Gambling Licenses Is Now Open

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If Pennsylvania casinos want to offer online gambling, their window to petition the state to do so is now open, according to the PA Gaming Control Board.

Doug Harbach, director of communications for the PGCB, confirmed to Online Poker Report that current licensees may now petition the board for interactive gaming certificates.

The date of April 16 had been floated in past PGCB meetings as the date when the process would begin, but now that is official.

What’s new in PA online casinos?

Casinos will be able to offer legal online poker and casino games in the state thanks to a 2017 law. April 16 marked the official starting point for the process. Online gambling service providers and platform providers may start their application processes in May and June, respectively.

The first window marks when any of the state’s 13 casinos (including the new stadium district casino in Philadelphia) in the state may petition to offer online gambling. During that window, they may apply only for full licenses — to offer table games, slot machines and poker — which will cost $10 million.

Here’s the language from the gaming expansion law:

No later than 90 days after the date the board begins accepting petitions under this chapter, a slot machine licensee may file a petition with the board for an interactive gaming certificate. If the board approves a petition for an interactive gaming certificate under this paragraph, the board shall authorize the interactive gaming certificate holder to offer any category of interactive gaming.

What’s in the petition?

The law goes into a great deal of detail about what casinos must include in their petitions; there are four pages about the contents. Suffice it to say, casino licensees have to provide a lot of information.

“It’s a little different than just an application, they have to send in a legal petition that we’re to receive,” Harbach said. “We were just talking about that today, as a matter of fact, because there’s a litany of things from the act that they have to supply in that petition.”

For example, here’s just one thing that has to be in any petition:

An itemized list of the interactive games, including identifying what category each interactive game falls under, and any other game or games the slot machine licensee plans to offer through the slot machine licensee’s interactive gaming website for which authorization is being sought. The slot machine licensee shall, in accordance with regulations promulgated by the board, file with the board any changes in the number of authorized interactive games offered through interactive gaming.

If the petition is granted, the casino will be authorized to offer online gambling.

With April 16 as the start date, the 90-day window would end on July 15. S0 what happens then?

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After 90 days…

When that window ends, a new 30-day window begins. Then, casinos can petition for what we like to call “a la carte” online gambling licenses, if they don’t want the full $10 million license. Casinos could ask to offer online poker, slots or tables, or some combination of two of those three things.

Those licenses cost $4 million apiece.

Following that period, if there are any certificates left, “qualified gaming entities” from outside of the state may start filing petitions for iGaming certificates.

When might we know on which casinos?

Well, that could be some time from now. Here’s what the law prescribes:

Within six months of the effective date of this section, to publish on the board’s publicly accessible internet website a complete list of all slot machine licensees who filed a petition seeking authorization to conduct interactive gaming and the status of each petition or interactive gaming certificate.

That’s obviously a long time, but odds are we hear news either from PGCB or the casinos themselves before the legislatively mandated timeframe.

- 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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