Penn National And IGT Link Up For Pennsylvania Online Gambling Under Hollywood Brand

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If everything goes according to plan, Pennsylvania residents will have access to legal online gambling products sometime in the first quarter of 2019.

A steady flow of news is trickling out as launch approaches, including a Thursday announcement that Penn National and IGT have entered into a five-year online gambling partnership.

According to the press release, Penn’s will deploy the full suite of IGT’s PlayCommand products:

  • PlayCasino
  • PlayPoker
  • PlayBingo

Penn executive Chris Sheffield offered his thoughts on the new partnership:

“We’re excited to leverage IGT’s platform and content for our online gaming launch in Pennsylvania. The flexibility and reliability of the PlayCommand platform, coupled with the proven game library within IGT’s PlayCasino, give us confidence that will deliver the same caliber of world-class gaming entertainment that our players have come to love in our land-based casinos.”

The release does not mention sports betting.

Other known online gambling partnerships in PA

When it comes to partnerships, PA casinos have kept their cards close to their vests. Ten of them applied for interactive gaming permits, but the Penn/IGT agreement is just the sixth official partnership.

Here are the other five:

  • SugarHouse + Rush Street Interactive
  • Parx + GAN
  • Presque Isle Downs + SBTech
  • Harrah’s + 888
  • Mount Airy + 888 + PokerStars

A seventh, rumored (and likely) partnership would see Valley Forge link up with partypoker/GVC.

Here’s everything we know about PA applications and alliances so far.

IGT’s first steps on US soil

IGT is a gaming behemoth, but the Penn partnership marks the company’s first foray into the US online casino market. Its arrival via Pennsylvania was something of a foregone conclusion.

The company applied for a PA iGaming Operator License back in June, but its partner was a tightly kept secret until now. Earlier rumors, which did not materialize, had linked Penn to Scientific Games.

Senior Vice President Enrico Drago chimed in on the Penn partnership in the press release:

“IGT PlayDigital’s vast portfolio of proven digital solutions enables us to quickly address our customers’ needs across online gaming, sports betting and on-premise mobile gaming. The newly regulated Pennsylvania online gaming market presents an exciting opportunity for IGT to extend the success of our PlayCommand platform and PlayCasino to Penn National as it expands the scope of its entertainment offering.”

With a flag firmly planted in PA soil, look for IGT to branch out to other online gaming states. New Jersey is a prime target, either through partnership with Penn or agreements with other land-based casino operators.

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IGT poker could shake up the US market

The US deployment of IGT’s online poker software is perhaps the most interesting development. So far, the industry has been the exclusive domain of 888, partypoker and PokerStars.

A few companies have tried and failed to compete with the big three:

  • UltimatePoker proved to be a flop in Nevada and New Jersey, with the company shutting down operations in 2014.
  • PalaPoker has been unable to make any significant inroads in New Jersey, with traffic numbers similar to the population of the International Space Station.
  • If you had a nickel for every player sitting at one of the RealGaming online poker tables in Nevada you’d have zero cents.

IGT is a different animal.

It has both the resources to compete with established brands and an established product of its own. The company spent three years overhauling the legacy BOSS online poker platform. With some unique features, it very well could be the best mobile poker app in the industry.

Time will soon tell whether it can carry Penn and Hollywood into a competitive spot in the PA market.

- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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