Pennsylvania is setting up to launch online casino and poker gaming by year’s end.
In October 2017, the state of Pennsylvania decided to pass a gaming reform package into law that would bring about several changes to the overall gaming landscape of the region. Included in the mix was the ability for land-based casinos of the state to offer online gaming, both casino and poker games. According to Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, Kevin O’Toole, the iGaming sites should be launched before 2018 comes to an end.
During a recent budget hearing in the House, Kevin O’Toole, told the lawmakers that his agency is ready to move forward with online gambling options. During the meeting, O’Toole stated that the Board is preparing the drafting of temporary regulations for online gaming in the state. The initial application process for online gaming licensing should be ready to begin by April.
For Pennsylvania, the approach to licensing for online gaming sites will be unique in the US. The state will be providing one master license for iGaming for every land-based slot license that currently is in existence in Pennsylvania. This means, 13 are up for grabs. However, the state is also creating varying licenses for product classes. There will be a license for table games, slot games and poker. So essentially, there will be a total of 39 licenses up for grabs.
The licenses are quite costly with $4 million. If a provider wants to offer table games, poker and slots, they can cut down on that price just a bit by paying a flat $10 million for all three. The licenses will be offered first to land-based operators of the state, who can buy any of the three options or all three if they so choose.
After being exclusively offered to land-based license holders, groups who are licensed in other jurisdictions can fill out an application for licensing. The time frame before this can take place is 120 days after the application process first begins.
It does seem that outside operators will get a chance to apply for online gaming licensing in the state as several land-based operators of Pennsylvania has several casinos in operation. This will leave a few leftovers for outside entities to try and claim.
Skins Still Being Questioned
In the past, the question of how many skins can operate under one license has been asked and still not answered. Regulators have yet to state how many unique brands can operate based on one license. In a comparative state like New Jersey, a master license is limited to land based operators, but the license holder has the right to partner with unique brands, essentially offering several skins on one license.
Because there is no real clarity on this issue in Pennsylvania, it is impacting the partnership options for operators. Smaller casinos may not be able to afford the license without the help of an additional partner, but online operators might not want to partner with smaller casinos if they cannot have their own skin from the license.
For now, we can see that the process is moving forward, which is good for online gamblers in the state. In the coming weeks, we should learn more about the application process as well as learn more about skins and other integral information involving the new online gambling industry for the state.