On Wednesday, two more Pennsylvania casinos received approvals from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to offer online gambling, marking the 4th and 5th PA casinos to be given the thumbs-up by the state. The latest PA casinos to be authorized for online gambling include Hollywood Casino — operated by Penn National Gaming — and the SugarHouse Casino.
The two casinos join the Parx Casino, Harrah’s Philadelphia and Mount Airy to be given the stamp of approval so far. Both casinos will be authorized to offer online poker and an online casino consisting of table games and slots.
With five casinos set to go live with PA online gambling, let’s take a look at some key questions and information about where Hollywood Casino, Sugar House and the state as a whole stand.
Casinos are at different stages with software partners
Both SugarHouse and the Hollywood Casino — like all the other casinos that have been approved for online gambling — are authorized to offer both online poker and an online casino. Longtime partners Rush Street Interactive will serve as the software provider to SugarHouse Casino.
Prior to the September 12th PGCB meeting, things were a bit less clear for Hollywood Casino/Penn National Gaming, with some speculation that the casino could partner with SG Digital. However, during the hearing, the company revealed that they were partnering with IGT on their software casino platform.
More approvals likely coming for October
The PGCB next meets in mid-October, which is when we are likely to see additional applications approved. Sands Bethleham, Rivers Casino, Valley Forge and Stadium Casino are the remaining casinos that applied during the initial July deadline that allowed for casinos to receive licenses at the discounted rate. The PGCB has 90 days to make a determination on the applications, which stands to reason that the remaining four that applied in July should be on the docket.
Mohegan Sun Pocono and Presque Isle Downs each applied for licenses in mid-August, putting the deadline for those casinos to be approved by mid-November, at the very latest.
Online gambling licenses still remain
So far, 32 of the original 39 licenses have been claimed. These were licenses that were originally allocated to Pennsylvania casinos — 3 for each of the 13 casinos. However, three Penn casinos choose either not to apply or partially apply, leaving seven left over.
For the rest of the licenses, it looks as though the PGCB will open up the licensing process to outside qualified gaming entities, who can submit their petitions during the last half of October. After names are submitted, the PGCB will then randomly select seven entities through a public drawing before those entities are considered for the PGCB for approval.
We still don’t know exactly when online gambling will go live
We know that a group of applications are likely to be approved in mid-October and possibly mid-November. Will Pennsylvania give all casinos an equal chance to go to market at the same time or will Pennsylvania green light the games to go live before all licenses are allocated?
The end of 2018 has often cited as a goal for when PA online gambling could come to the masses. It looks like it still could happen, but it may come down to the wire.