Online gambling is still likely months away, but the state of Pennsylvania has already raised $110 million from license commitments so far. The proceeds are from PA casinos that have snatched up 32 online gambling licenses. The licenses allow casinos that opportunity to offer online poker, online table games, and online slots at a price tag of $10 for all three licenses or $4 million per license.
Only 2 out of the 13 PA casinos have opted out of online gambling so far, while a third casino – Presque Isle Downs and Casino — applied for online gambling but opted out of applying for online poker.
PA casinos make way for Qualified Gaming Entities
The two Pennsylvania casinos — Lady Luck and The Meadows Casino — apparently are not going to apply for online gambling. PA regulators decided this week to open up the remaining licenses to what are being referred to as “Qualified Gaming Entities,” or QGE for short. There are a total of seven licenses — 3 poker, 2 table games, 2 slots — that still remain.
QGEs are companies/entities — most likely casinos — located within the United States or internationally that are currently licensed in a jurisdiction outside of PA. To be eligible, a company must “have attributes of a slot machine licensee.” In addition, the company’s license must be in good standing. They must also prove they are financially able to pay a fee of $4 million per license should they be accepted.
A gateway to the United States online gambling market
The appeal of entering the Pennsylvania market is likely high for outside companies for a couple key reasons.
The most obvious justification for moving into Pennsylvania is that the state is the largest so far to regulate online gambling, and operating in the state could be a prize to any motivated company. Not only is the Pennsylvania market quite impressive, but operators could end up using the Pennsylvania market to springboard into other areas of the United States when regulation inevitably opens up.
We could see also companies with a presence in other regulated states such as New Jersey and Nevada motivated to leverage their operations in those states and perhaps combine resources. Online poker sites are the obvious benefactors of operating across state lines due to the fact that player pools can be combined, making games much more attractive to additional players.
What’s next for QGEs?
QGEs will have about a month to get ready. Interested entities will have from October 15th to October 30th to submit petitions communicating their interest in the Pennsylvania market. From there, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will release the names and subsequently announce the date of a public drawing.
Yes, a public drawing. The next prospective PA online casino will essentially be drawn from a hat.
After the names have been drawn, the QGEs that have been selected will then have an additional 60 days to file their application.
What this means is that Pennsylvania players will likely know the companies that have petitioned the state in late October/early November, with companies having by the end of the year to submit their application.
While we could easily see online gambling live in PA by the end of the year, it is very unlikely that qualified gaming entities will be among them and instead we will be looking at a more reasonable launch of the first half of 2019.