Satellite Casino Licensing Stalls in Pennsylvania


PASatellite casinos are no longer of interest to gaming operators it seems, as licensing has not been awarded in past few months. 

Last year, the state of Pennsylvania legalized a gaming package that would see several changes take place regarding the gambling industry. Include in the mix was the creation of satellite casinos. Up to 11 satellite casinos would be up for grabs and after a few months of activity, it seems interest in the mini venues has stalled.

A Quick Start

The satellite casino licensing began with a quick start as operators were ready to get going on the mini venues. The first license sold for just over $50m while the second went for just over $40m. The first license was obtained by Penn National and the second by Stadium Gaming LLC. After that, other companies like Mount Airy, began to obtain licensing for the mini casinos, but at a much lower rate, in the seven figure range.

It seemed after the initial auctions, the state was seeing far less interest and lower bids to get started. The bid needed to be considered was set at $7.5m, with the first few bids far above the amount. The last license went for just over $7.5m, showing that the price point to get started was going down considerably.

The auction process began in January with two auctions scheduled for each month. Interested operators were to bid $7.5m or more to secure licensing which would allow them to operate a mini casino with 300 to 750 slot games and as many as 30 table games.

After January and February were successful, there was a break in the auctions. After two months with rescheduling and no activity, the auctions were back up and running in April. The last license went to Penn National as the process was opened up to those who had already received licensing, thanks to no interest in previous months.

Penn National paid far less the second time for licensing, with only $7,500,001 paid to secure their second license.

Moving Forward

The second auction in April saw no bidders come forward which led to the Gaming Control Board halting the auction process. The Board must now decide if they want to open a final round of bidding up to non-casino license holders who have been approved by the state to operate a smaller gaming venue. The Board has yet to make this decision.

Right now, those who have licensing are not even working on setting up their new gaming venues. Discussions are being made as to where to place the satellite casinos, as each license holder had to suggest a location vicinity before they would be approved by the Board.

A few locations in Pennsylvania are considering opening up their region to satellite gaming but the majority of areas have decided they want no part in gaming, even if it would be a smaller venue like a mini casino.

Pennsylvania gaming operators have much to consider as online gaming is also in the works along with sports betting. Online casino licensing has stalled, with many industry insiders feeling that the online licensing process is slow-going as operators do not want to pay the amount for licensing that is required.

Right now, operators can pay $10 million for three total licenses, one for slot gaming, one for table games and one for poker. After a 90 day window, operators can pay $4 million each, choosing to offer one of the gaming categories, two or all three.