- 1 Who are the possible Pennsylvania online casinos?
- 2 Parx Casino
- 3 Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack
- 4 SugarHouse
- 5 Rivers Casino
- 6 Mount Airy
- 7 Valley Forge
- 8 Mohegan Sun Pocono
- 9 Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course
- 10 Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin
- 11 Presque Isle Downs
- 12 The Meadows Racetrack and Casino
- 13 Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem
The regulatory process has just begun, and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board should start accepting applications and handing out the state’s first online gambling licenses in 2018. That leaves just one major question in the interim: Exactly who will be offering online gambling in Pennsylvania?
The answer to that question will start off simply enough. However, it could get more complex as time moves forward and those who want in the new PA online gambling market stake their claim.
Who are the possible Pennsylvania online casinos?
First off, the new laws allow for the 12 land-based casinos currently operating in Pennsylvania to apply for one of 36 available licenses. That makes one each for online table games, online slots, and online poker.
Any or all of these casinos could apply for all three licenses at once. A $10 million licensing fee would apply. Should they want only one or two, the licenses would come at a cost of $4 million each.
It is conceivable that some of the state’s existing casinos could pass on any of the 36 licenses. Should they do so, potential operators from outside the existing PA casinos industry would be invited to apply for them. That’s where things get a little more complicated.
US casino companies without a foothold in PA may want in, as may offshore land-based or online casino companies. In fact, some entity from outside the casino industry altogether may decide now is the time and Pennsylvania is the place to make inroads into the online gambling industry.
This is, of course, impossible to predict. However, we can take a closer look at the 12 land-based casinos currently operating in Pennsylvania and the interest they may have in PA online gambling.
Parx is the top-grossing casino Pennsylvania. Executives from Parx fought hard to make sure lawmakers set the same tax rates online that they already had offline. Now that they got what they wanted, it would seem inevitable that Parx moves online in some capacity.
Plus, they’re really already there. Parx launched a social casino in 2015 with online gambling software provider GAN. There’s little doubt GAN has the software changes at the ready that will allow the site to accept real-money wagers.
Now, the only question is will Parx try to capitalize on the strength of its industry-leading live poker room and offer online poker as well?
Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack
Harrah’s in Chester is a Caesars Entertainment property. Caesars and software partner 888 are big players in the New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware online gambling markets.
There’s a good chance Harrah’s will open up the flagship online casino site for Caesars in the state, offering table games and slots. Plus, one can expect the property and its owners to launch a PA WSOP-branded online poker site as well.
Philadelphia’s SugarHouse Casino has been running a New Jersey online gambling site since September 2016. Up until now, it has been mostly slots and table games with no online poker.
Having tested things out in the New Jersey market already, SugarHouse appears ready to roll in PA. It may even jump in the local online poker market in an effort to leverage the brand recognition from its popular Poker Night in America poker room as well.
Pittsburgh’s Rivers Casino is owned and operated by Rush Street Gaming, which also owns SugarHouse. It could very well want to launch a branded version of the SugarHouse Casino online offering in order to take advantage of its market share in that part of the state.
The team at Mount Airy Casino Resort has advocated for online gambling in PA from the start. Plus, it signed an online gambling agreement with 888 back in 2014, and that partnership is still in place.
888 provides software for Caesars Interactive Entertainment’s WSOP-branded online poker sites in New Jersey and Nevada. Plus, it runs its own casino and poker sites in New Jersey on top of that.
It’s no real stretch to think Mount Airy online gambling sites powered by 888 software will soon be ready to launch and become a part of that growing network.
The tiny Valley Forge Casino Resort has also supported the idea of online gambling in the state from the start. Plus, there are rumors it struck a partnership with online gambling giant GVC, formerly bwin.party, many moons ago.
GVC is already a major online casino and poker player in New Jersey. It provides software for Borgata and MGM’s online casino and poker sites and runs its own Partypoker site. If the GVC-Valley Forge partnership really exists, the word “tiny” will certainly be removed from all references to Valley Forge Casino when it comes to PA online gambling.
Mohegan Sun Pocono
The Tribal gaming group that owns and operates Mohegan Sun Pocono is also a player in the New Jersey online gambling market. It has the Resorts and Mohegan Sun sites running under the Resorts Atlantic City online gambling license.
Plus, there’s a partnership with PokerStars in place, allowing the world’s leading online poker company to operate in NJ under that same license.
Mohegan Sun Pocono could very well be the launching point for PokerStars in the state. Or the two sides could go it alone and compete in all three aspects of online gambling in PA.
Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course
State lawmakers authorized the issuance of up to 10 licenses for these mini-casinos — as long as they weren’t built within 25 miles of an existing casino. Penn National doesn’t think the playing field is level.
The issue when it comes to online gambling is that the satellite casinos were authorized as a part of the same bill that legalizes and regulates online gambling. Penn National will likely want to settle the satellite issue before it moves online.
Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin
Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin may be interested in online gambling in PA. The 600-slot machine and 30-table game facility may also be too small for what it wants to matter.
Then again, when it comes to online gambling, anything can happen.
Presque Isle Downs
Presque Isle Downs already has online betting on horse races. Plus, the casino is twice the size of Lady Luck Casino. That means if Presque Isle Downs wants in the PA online casino market, they may even have the revenue to get there.
The Meadows Racetrack and Casino
The Meadows is owned by Penn National Gaming spin-off. All signs point to it being in the same boat as Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.
However, don’t give up on either property from an online gambling perspective. Penn National Gaming is a giant in the US gambling industry, and even if they show up late to PA’s online gambling party, they could end up being the life of it.
Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem
Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem is the real party pooper here. It’s the state’s second highest-grossing casino, so it has the revenue to compete online. It’s just not very likely that it will.
Las Vegas Sands Corporation founder, chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson, has some misguided moral objection to online gambling that will probably keep Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem out of the PA online gambling market. Never let the facts get in the way of a good moral objection.