SugarHouse And Hollywood Casinos Approved For Online Gaming in PA

Yesterday Pennsylvania regulators met and approved online gaming licenses for SugarHouse Casino and Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.

These are Pennsylvania’s full online gaming licenses that cost $10 million and will allow the casinos to offer online poker, online slots, and online casino table games (blackjack, roulette, etc). Alternatively, the casinos could’ve applied separately for one or two of the three online gaming verticals for $4 million, but applying for all three yields a $2 million “discount”.

SugarHouse emphasizes independence, innovation, and NJ success

At the meeting, SugarHouse’s parent company, Rush Street Gaming, made a case for its suitability for operating online gaming in PA. Their presentation noted the impressive share of the New Jersey market they had garnered – especially noteworthy considering the three year head-start their competitors had on them. In addition, they made the following points:

  • The company is private, has a long-term focus, and is run according to successful “gaming principles”.
  • They have proven familiarity with Pennsylvania gaming operations.
  • They have innovated in the market by developing their own homegrown iGaming platform (Rush Street Interactive).
  • They have a “nimble and focused team” with strong backgrounds in online gambling.
  • They have only ever operated in expressly legal and regulated markets, including Columbia, where they tested their sportsbook before bringing it to New Jersey.

Penn National swaps out SG for IGT

The biggest revelation from Penn National’s presentation at the meeting is that IGT will be their online gaming technology partner. It was previously expected that this role would be played by Scientific Games, which currently run’s Hollywood Casino’s social “play money” site.

IGT is a big player in New Jersey (and elsewhere) and with this partnership, will be entering the Pennsylvania online gaming market as well. It seems likely they will aim to enter as many states as possible as legal online gaming spreads across the United States. This move will include online sports betting, if IGT’s recent partnership with FanDuel (a well known Daily Fantasy Sports and sports betting company) is any indication.

That makes five so far

These two casinos now join three others which were approved at the last Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) meeting in mid-August. The total list of approved casinos is:

What does the PA online gaming landscape look like right now?

Of the thirteen Pennsylvania casinos eligible for these licenses, the five mentioned above are approved and six others are awaiting approval:

All of these eleven casinos applied for the full $10 million online gaming license except for Presque Isle which opted for online slots and online table games only (ignoring online poker). The remaining two Pennsylvania casinos (Lady Luck and Meadows Casino) have not yet applied for online gambling licenses.

This all means that of the 39 available online gaming licenses in Pennsylvania, 15 are applied for and approved, 17 are applied for and await approval, and seven remain. Two of these are for online slots, two for online table games, and three (including one left on the table by Presque Isle) for online poker.

One wonders what will become of these. Will out of state operators end up holding online gaming licenses in Pennsylvania that were unwanted by in-state casino operators?

When will PA online gambling be available?

There’s been a ton of activity on the legal, financial, regulatory, and technological fronts, but many Pennsylvanian’s just want to know, “When can we start playing?” Five casinos have been approved for online gaming, but when will they go live? Frustratingly, we must wait for some key regulatory actions to be taken before Pennsylvanians can legally gamble online.

What these actions are isn’t known, precisely. The PGCB must still give the official go-ahead before PA casinos can launch their online gaming offerings. Since only five of the potential thirteen full licenses have been approved, perhaps the PGCB wants to wait until all licenses are applied for and approved before giving final authorization. Perhaps they want merely to wait until all submitted applications have been approved. We don’t know exactly, so we don’t know when they will throw the switch.

The PGCB is allotted a period of 90 days from time of application submission in which to approve online gaming licenses. This means that we will likely see the remaining applications from July approved in October. Similarly, the two applications from August should be approved in November.

Given these timelines (and assuming technological and logistical barriers can be sorted out quickly), Pennsylvania could see legal online gaming by the end of 2018.

What to do while you wait?

Pennsylvanian’s who just can’t wait to gamble legally online might want to check out Pennsylvania’s Online Lottery. It’s easy, quick, fun to play, and you can win real money. There are a couple interesting and lucrative bonuses available as well. New players get $5 free to play when they sign up. Also, players receive a 50% deposit bonus up to $50 on their initial deposits.