PA online gambling will go live on July 15

Pennsylvania Online Gambling Moves To The Launchpad; T-Minus 90 Days

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Nearly 18 months after the governor signed the enabling legislation, Pennsylvania finally has a date for the launch of online gambling. And it’s just 90 short days away.

Executive Director Kevin O’Toole broke the news during a scheduled meeting of the PA Gaming Control Board (PGCB) on Wednesday morning.

“Staff has reviewed the estimated time that it would take for us and the industry to complete all necessary steps, and it is our view that 90 days would be adequate. Accordingly, I have advised the 10 iGaming certificate holders and three iGaming operators that a coordinated go-live period for interactive gaming will commence on July 15, 2019.”

There it is: July 15. You can read the letter to certificate holders at the bottom of this page.

O’Toole’s timeline falls in line with reporting from PlayPennsylvania, which has been projecting a midyear launch for several months. Sources also expect the first PA online sportsbooks to go live in the coming weeks — even prior to online poker sites.

If things go smoothly over the next three months, the Keystone State will become the fourth with legal online poker and the fourth with statewide mobile sports betting.

What to expect from PA online gambling

The 2017 law initiated a broad expansion of the Pennsylvania gambling industry, including satellite casinos and a new PA online lottery. Online casino gambling and online sports betting are the two highlights for our purposes, so we’ll focus there.

Here’s what to expect from the market when it opens for business in the coming months.

PA online poker, casinos

Ten of the 13 Pennsylvania casinos secured permits to offer table games and slot machines online, and seven of those will also spread poker. The golden ticket for all three could initially be purchased for a discounted $10 million.

Some of the biggest brands in online poker have a path into Pennsylvania.

  • Expect to see PokerStars deploy a PA platform under its partnership with Mount Airy.
  • The Harrah’s license will likely spawn two platforms — both WSOP and 888 Poker.
  • Partypoker has a point of entry using the license of Valley Forge.
  • Other online poker licensees: Hollywood, Parx, Sands, SugarHouse.

Should all of these launch poker sites in July, the PA market would instantly become the largest in the country. No other US state has more than four online poker networks.

There could be more on the way, too, as both Golden Nugget and MGM are approved to offer online gambling under the Qualified Gaming Entities provision.

Only three PA casinos have no plans to participate: Lady Luck Nemacolin, Meadows, and Rivers. You can see the full list of licensees here.

PA online sports betting

Some of the youngest brands in the US sports gambling industry are poised to expand their portfolios this summer. A few of them already operate NJ online sportsbooks in New Jersey, including:

Unlike online gambling, the implementation of online sports betting in PA is limited to one brand per licensee. Although DraftKings Sportsbook has a partnership with Caesars/Harrah’s, for example, it’s not involved in the company’s plans for PA sports betting.

Other properties holding permits include Hollywood, Presque Isle Downs, and Rivers, while Mount Airy and Mohegan Sun are both awaiting a decision.

Licenses for PA sports betting cost $10 million apiece, and eight retail sportsbooks have opened since regulation began late last year.

Is the Wire Act in play?

Having a confirmed launch date is good news for both operators and prospective customers, and it’s a relief for the industry as a whole.

A new Wire Act interpretation from the US Department of Justice in January put the legality of online gambling in some doubt, and Pennsylvania is part of the federal court battle in progress in New Hampshire.

In January, O’Toole sent a letter to all operators, instructing them to fully comply with the new opinion. At the time, there was some concern that launch would be delayed until the federal lawsuit reached a resolution.

Those concerns are back on the shelf for now, as PA regulators are actively moving toward launch. The potential for multi-state online poker compacts involving PA, however, may well hinge on that upcoming ruling.

PGCB launch notice

4.16.19 - PGCB Launch Notice
- 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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