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The addition of online gambling and sports betting has Pennsylvania casinos eyeing up a mountain of potential revenue. But which are best-positioned to take advantage of the opportunity?
This time: Mount Airy.
Despite being one of the smallest casinos in the state, Mount Airy is poised to become a major player in the online gambling realm.
Mount Airy Resort Casino is one of the four Category 2 venues in Pennsylvania which are not tied to horse racing. It’s a traditional, standalone casino located in the Pocono Mountains.
Built on the grounds of a former honeymoon retreat, it is also one of the few PA casinos that boasts an attached hotel. With just 188 rooms, 62,000 square feet of gaming space, and an off-the-beaten-path location, however, Mount Airy simply can’t compete with larger casinos in more strategic locations.
The launches of online casino games, poker, and sports betting provide casinos with all the tools they need to thrive in the Commonwealth. In the digital space, Mount Airy will have access to the same customers and an equal amount of virtual real estate as its larger competitors.
It is well positioned to benefit from that leveling of the playing field.
When it comes to brick-and-mortar gambling, Mount Airy isn’t on the same level as Parx and Wind Creek. That said, the property does offer a full menu of options:
Furthermore, Mount Airy recently announced plans to construct a new sportsbook and expanded poker room. The project will increase the number of poker tables to 12 alongside 3,800 square feet of new sportsbook space.
Mount Airy also won one of the five mini-casino auctions the state held in 2019. Its proposed satellite casino will be located in New Castle in Lawrence County.
New poker room and sportsbook aside, it’s online gambling that presents Mount Airy with the best opportunity to close the gap between itself and the current casino leaders. And it’s an opportunity the owners are jumping at.
Mount Airy received online casino gambling permits in all three categories:
Unlike some competing operators, Mount Airy (and its partners) will pump energy and resources into all three verticals — including PA online poker. The casino also holds a PA sports betting license which allows it to offer both land-based and online sports betting in the state.
Mount Airy has two digital partners:
TSG (PokerStars and Fox Bet) will deploy a full suite of online gambling sites, including an online poker client and online sportsbook. 888 will likely deploy its own online casino under the same license.
Both are active in other US markets, including neighboring New Jersey.
With online casinos powered by a pair of industry giants, Mount Airy should have one of the largest combined catalogues of games in the state. The main problem is that the games won’t be available under a single umbrella.
It won’t be online casino games that differentiate Mount Airy from the state’s other online operators, anyhow. It will be online poker and sports betting.
Mount Airy will provide PokerStars with its second US online poker opportunity far removed from its legal debut. After sitting in the penalty box for two years in NJ, launch in PA will mark the first time PokerStars enters a new US market alongside its peers.
Mount Airy will also be close to ground zero for Fox Bet — depending on when BetStars rebrands — the joint venture between The Stars Group and Fox Sports. As such, you can expect a lot of early investment in the PA sports betting market.
In a recent presentation to regulators, Mount Airy and TSG detailed their new plans for a combination sportsbook/poker room.
During the same presentation casino executives said the goal is to have a physical sportsbook up and running by the start of the NFL season. Online sports betting will follow thereafter under a timeline that is less defined at the moment.
Perhaps more than any other Pennsylvania casino not named Rivers or SugarHouse, Mount Airy is eager for online gambling. It was one of the first PA casinos to advocate for legalization, grabbing hold of the expansion at its earliest opportunity.
Mount Airy was also one of the first to announce an online partnership (with 888) way back in 2015 — a full two years before the state passed the enabling law.
As noted above, it later fortified its position by aligning with The Stars Group, which will handle the poker and sportsbook components of the online suite.
The property’s early and continued embrace of online gambling should translate into success in the PA online gambling market. In fact, Mount Airy has a chance to become the Golden Nugget of Pennsylvania — a smaller casino that punches above its weight and dominates the digital market.