Only three Pennsylvania licensed casinos had officially petitioned for online gaming licenses by the end of Sunday, but at the last minute, six more managed to get their applications to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).
The full list of applicants is:
All nine casinos are paying the full $10 million license fee which entitles them to offer:
The four casinos which have not applied are the Mohegan Sun, Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin, Meadows Casino and Presque Isle Downs. They may still apply for licenses, but after missing this deadline each license element will cost $4 million.
The most interesting name on the list is that of Sands Bethlehem, owned by billionaire Sheldon Adelson. He has invested millions in lobbying against online gambling and attempting to get Congress to ban online gambling.
To be fair, the application is not entirely his decision. He has a $1.3 billion deal with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians which requires him to pursue an interactive license application in good faith.
“Sands submits this petition in the interest of Wind Creek so that, if approved, and after Wind Creek acquires the purchased interests, Sands can conduct interactive gaming in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
It’s beginning to look like all the players in New Jersey online poker market, minus Pala Poker, will be involved in Pennsylvania.
All the casinos will be well aware that the early years in New Jersey saw the market shake out into a virtual oligopoly, with PokerStars, WSOP/888 and Borgata/PartyPoker serving almost 100 percent of the market. In other words, the big names in poker won their place in the market and pushed out everybody else.
It would be a surprise if the Pennsylvania online poker market didn’t go the same way as New Jersey. But surprises are not impossible in localized markets where some brand names command customer loyalty out of all proportion to their international brand presence.
This happened in France, where Winamax actually edged ahead of PokerStars to be the most popular online poker room.