Pennsylvania has nine casinos applying for interactive gaming licenses
Online Poker Report

PA Online Poker And Gambling Ready For Takeoff: Nine PA Casinos Apply For Full Licenses

Ready for takeoff

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:

  • Parx
  • Stadium Casino
  • Mount Airy
  • Sands Bethlehem
  • Hollywood Casino
  • Valley Forge
  • Harrah’s Philadelphia
  • Rivers Casino
  • Sugarhouse Casino

All nine casinos are paying the full $10 million license fee which entitles them to offer:

  • A peer-to-peer online gaming license (online poker)
  • A license to offer online slot machines
  • A license to offer online table games

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 hypocrisy of Sheldon Adelson

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.”

Who is partnered with whom and will they launch online poker?

  • First applicant Parx is partnered by GAN, not known for its poker software but capable of offering a product if Parx feels it can compete.
  • Mount Airy is partners with 888 and probably PokerStars too.
  • Stadium Casino hasn’t even got a fully built casino, so its plans may still be up in the air. Industry rumor suggests that it may partner with GAN.
  • Harrah’s Philadelphia is owned by Caesars which is partnered with 888 in New Jersey. It’s a safe assumption that that relationship will continue in Pennsylvania.
  • Sands Bethlehem will run any interactive gaming through its deal with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. No poker client partner has been mentioned.
  • Rivers Casino is owned by Rush Street Gaming which has its own online gambling platform.
  • SugarHouse Casino is also a Rush Street property, so will use the parent company’s technology.
  • Penn National is partnered with Scientific Games in a number of jurisdictions, so that relationship should continue.
  • Valley Forge has not officially announced a partner, but it is well-known that it has been in talks with PartyPoker owners GVC.
  • POKER
  • BONUS
  • DETAILS
  • PLAY

The poker market could end up a replica of New Jersey

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.

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Joss Wood
- A former editor of Poker Industry Pro, Joss Wood is a graduate in English from the University of Birmingham. Joss also holds a master’s degree in Organisational Development from the University of Manchester. His career path has taken him from the British Army, through business and finance to seven years as a successful professional poker player.