PA online gambling moves forward again

Two More PA Online Casinos Win Approval; Regulators To Award Extra Licenses By Random Draw

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Two more casino operators in Pennsylvania have received approval to offer online gambling.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) awarded permits to both Hollywood and SugarHouse casinos during its scheduled meeting on Wednesday.

An updated policy regarding leftover licenses also emerged, allowing operators outside of the state to pursue PA interactive gaming permits.

Add Hollywood, SugarHouse to the list

The meeting opened with the two petitions for interactive gaming.

SugarHouse was first up at the podium. The property near Philadelphia is owned by Rush Street Gaming, which has a good bit of relevant experience. The group’s interactive division serves up an online casino/sportsbook in neighboring New Jersey under the license of Golden Nugget.

The PGCB unanimously granted SugarHouse’s request to offer the full suite of interactive games, including slots, table games and poker.

Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association was next on the mic. Mountain View operates and carries the interactive permit for Hollywood, one of two PA casinos under the Penn National Gaming umbrella. The group applied to offer the full suite of interactive games at Hollywood, and the board unanimously approved.

During the hearing, Penn also revealed an updated partnership structure for PA interactive gaming worth noting. It will use an IGT platform, GeoComply location services, and Aristotle for know-your-customer controls. Penn also has a PA sports betting application on file with the DGE.

Hollywood and SugarHouse are now among the five approved applicants, joining Harrah’s, Mount Airy and Parx. Eleven of the 13 casino licensees have applied for interactive gaming permits to date, with Meadows and Lady Luck being the odd ones out.

Penn also owns Meadows, so it seems likely the group will run with the Hollywood brand in PA. Lady Luck is in the middle of a transfer to Churchill Downs, complicating its roadmap to online gaming.

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Leftover licenses available for third parties

There are a total of 39 permits available, three apiece for each of the 13 casinos in the state. So far, 32 of those permits are reserved.

Here’s what’s left over:

  • 3 peer-to-peer (poker) permits
  • 2 slot permits
  • 2 table games permits

That extra poker permit is the one Presque Isle Downs left on the table after applying for table games and slots individually.

The DGE isn’t sure those remaining licenses will sell, so it has opened up applications to operators without a presence in the state. After running through the current status of interactive gaming certificates, Executive Director Kevin O’Toole made a motion to update the licensure policy:

The seven interactive gaming certificates that remain available may now be awarded to qualified gaming entities, or QGEs. A QGE is defined in the expanded gaming act as a gaming entity licensed in any jurisdiction which has satisfied the requirements set forth in the act and any other criteria established by the board…”

The Board approved the executive director’s motion, and it will use updated guidelines to oversee the application and approval process going forward.

QGEs can submit their petitions for interactive gaming between Oct. 15-30, and all approved applications will go into a box. Regulators will then award the remaining permits randomly via public drawing. Any operator(s) selected will have 60 days from the drawing to submit their interactive gaming application.

- Eric is a reporter and writer covering regulated US gambling, sports betting, and DFS. He comes from a poker background, formerly on staff at PokerNews and the World Poker Tour.
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