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The addition of online gambling and sports betting presents Pennsylvania casinos with a golden opportunity to climb the leaderboard in the market. But which are best-positioned to take advantage of the chance?
In this new series, we’ll explore the prospects for the PA online gambling industry and what to expect from each of its participants.
First up: Mohegan Sun Pocono.
The Pocono complex is one of six Category 1 racinos (a venue that combines casino gambling with live racing) in the state. As the name indicates, the property is owned by Mohegan Sun.
Located in Plains Township on the outskirts of Wilkes-Barre, Mohegan Sun acquired the PA property from Penn National Gaming in 2005 for $280 million. The new owners proceeded to expand and renovate the building, including the addition of a 268-room hotel in 2013.
The parent company also owns an eponymous casino in Connecticut and operates Resorts Atlantic City in New Jersey.
Mohegan Sun Pocono can best be described as a midsized casino in the Pennsylvania market.
The track also has three affiliated OTB parlors located in Carbondale, East Stroudsburg, and Allentown.
On the online gambling front, Mohegan Sun holds permits to operate online slots and online table games. The company initially applied for a PA online poker license, too, but later withdrew that portion of its request.
To power its PA online gambling products, Mohegan partnered with a familiar name in the global gaming market. Kindred Group (with an assist from Pala) will supply its entire suite of online gambling products under the Unibet brand:
Pala is an interesting choice. Mohegan possesses an NJ online casino skin thanks to its relationship with Resorts, but it appears its PA online gambling platforms will be entirely different.
According to a Pala spokesperson, the tentative launch window is sometime in September. That would put Mohegan Sun’s online casino behind the state’s synchronized launch, tentatively scheduled for July 15.
Mohegan’s VP of Interactive Gaming, Aviram Alroy, had this to say regarding the partnership with Kindred:
“We’ve aligned with one of the best online casino and [sportsbook] operators in online regulated markets which will allow us to offer best in class experience to our existing customers as well as attracting new ones. Introduction of the Kindred offering to the market is a great positive for Mohegan Sun as well as the state of Pennsylvania.”
Mohegan also applied for a PA sports betting license which covers both land-based and online wagering. As with its online casino plans, however, it has played its cards close to the vest.
During a May 15 hearing before the PA Gaming Control Board, Mohegan representatives said they expect the land-based sportsbook to go live in time for the upcoming NFL season, with an online sportsbook to follow.
That squares with the launch target Pala provided.
There are a number of reasons to be bullish about Mohegan’s chances in the PA online gambling market.
First, Mohegan Sun has a strong brand and a growing national presence. In addition to its operations in the three states mentioned, the company also attempted (unsuccessfully) to break into the Massachusetts and New York markets.
In Pennsylvania, Mohegan Sun Pocono owns an 8% share of the land-based gaming market. That puts it right at the state average, not bad for an out-of-the-way casino.
In New Jersey, the Mohegan Sun online casino skin has an estimated market share of just 3%, according to Eilers & Krejcik Gaming. That’s slightly below average, but it’s a solid performance considering Mohegan doesn’t possess a land-based casino in Atlantic City. Most of the on-property marketing at Resorts is for the other skins under its license, including PokerStars and DraftKings Casino.
New Jersey has given Mohegan good experience in a well-regulated online gambling market. But its digital footprint in NJ provides additional benefits, too.
Mohegan Sun is one of a handful PA casinos that will operate on both sides of the Delaware River. That provides better coverage (and more bang for the buck) for promotions in Philadelphia — a market that comprises both PA and NJ.
Depending on how the DOJ Wire Act opinion shakes out, it may even be possible to link the sites across state lines.