Withdrawal of Rivers means a total of ten PA online gambling slots are open

Rivers Casino Kills PA Online Casino Plans; More Licenses Up For Grabs

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Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh no longer plans to offer online casino or online poker, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. The property withdrew its application on Thursday.

That also means there are three more interactive gaming certificates up for grabs in PA, bringing the total of open slots up to ten.

Two more PA online casino petitions were approved on Wednesday, from Sands Bethlehem and Valley Forge.

See you later, Rivers Casino

The news about Rivers came from regulators, with no clarification on the “why” from Rivers. In a brief comment to Online Poker Report, a spokesperson indicated the property still plans to pursue PA sports betting.

“Rivers Casino Pittsburgh intends to provide iGaming to Western Pennsylvania and the Commonwealth; however, we’re taking additional time to explore the various options for doing so. Rivers is actively pursuing a sports wagering certificate to offer both land-based and mobile sports betting.”

Rush Street Gaming owns both Rivers and SugarHouse Casino, a Philadelphia-area property. It will still conduct online gambling via a license for SugarHouse, it appears.

SugarHouse already has an online casino active in New Jersey, under the license of the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City.

The why for Rivers on online casino is probably…

Rush Street may have decided that it simply doesn’t need two different interactive gaming licenses at a cost of $10 million each. (PA casinos had an opportunity to apply for a full suite of online gambling products at a bulk rate of $10 million or “a la carte” for three different or $4 million each for poker, table casinos and casino.)

While the Rivers brand would certainly play better in western PA, it can still simply push an online casino product from SugarHouse (or another brand) at Rivers Casino without ponying up the extra money.

Short of more insight from Rush Street, this is the most logical explanation.

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More PA online casino licenses

The news is of the good variety for anyone on the outside looking to get into the PA market.

Regulators authorized one license in each category for the 12 existing casinos, plus another set for the Stadium property under construction. Initially, 32 of the 39 licenses were claimed, but that number has now dropped to 29.

The PGCB broke down what is still available:

  • Four online poker licenses
  • Three online slot licenses
  • Three online table game licenses

According to the PGCB, “Qualified Gaming Entities seeking these available certificates can file a petition with the Board beginning October 15, 2018 and ending October 31, 2018.” Those entities could include companies without a current presence in the Commonwealth.

Who is going to get the ten PA licenses?

It’s not clear who qualifies as a “Qualified Gaming Entity” in PA, although being a gaming company regulated elsewhere in the US or in Europe is likely a part of the equation.

There are plenty of possibilities for who may want to snatch up those licenses.

After the petition period ends later this month, PA will randomly select the entities who will get a crack at petitioning the state for the ability to offer online gambling. The odds of any single company getting a license just went up with three more in the pool.

- 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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