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Virtual Sports Games Could Be First New Gambling To Go Live in PA

Pennsylvania passed a huge expansion of gambling in late October, which included a landmark online gambling initiative and so-called “mini-casinos.”

Gambling expansion could roll out relatively quickly in PA, but the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is allowing local Pennsylvania government time to control expansion in their own communities.

Local governments will be given time to restrict mini casinos

Late last week, the PGCB announced that local governments will have until the end of the year to pass resolutions restricting gambling in truck stops and mini-casinos.

Despite the name, mini-casinos are allowed to have 300-750 slot machines and up to 50 table games, but cannot be located within 25 miles of any of the existing 12 — soon to be 13 — casinos in the state.

After the deadline, PGCB will hold auctions for the mini-casino licenses. The first auctions slated for the middle of January.

Among the other gambling initiatives passed by the state and signed by Governor Tom Wolfe last month is online gambling — which includes online slots, online casinos and poker — as well as virtual sports games to be located in Pennsylvania bars.

Virtual sports games are expected to land in Pennsylvania bars during the spring of 2018 with around 1,000 establishments offering the new games. “We’re still in the development stage, but we very likely will have some sort of demo for prospective retail partners,” said Gary Miller, a Pennsylvania lottery spokesman

Online gambling could launch by middle of 2018

Nearby New Jersey was able to implement online gambling in about nine months from time of passage to launch. That would put Pennsylvania on a path to go live some time in the middle of 2018, with some experts speculating on a launch as early as the first half of 2018. Pennsylvania will allow up to 13 operator licenses — equal to the number of brick and mortar casinos in the state.

However, despite the desire to move relatively quickly, online gambling will take some time. “As we work internally on processes and regulations, it is too early to announce any definitive timetable on when any of the new gaming initiatives will launch,” said Doug Harbach, a PGCB spokesman.