Online poker may be coming to Pennsylvania by the end of the year… But before you get too excited I should probably tell you it will only be a play money online casino site run by Parx Casino that may or may not have online poker.
The move seems to be predicated on the Parx Casino having decided to get out in front of any potential online gambling bill that may pass through the state legislature in the coming years, as they announced a partnership with online gaming software provider GameAccount Network that will see Parx launch a free-to-play online casino.
GameAccount is a B2B company (a software provider) that already has a footprint in the US via Betfair in New Jersey, and was running Foxwoods free-play in Connecticut in a similar deal to the one they just signed with Parx. The Parx free-play casino could be ready to launch by the end of the year.
The play-money site could easily morph into a real-money gaming platform should Pennsylvania pass an online gambling bill in the future, but Parx will not be locked in to partnering with GameAccount as far as I can tell.
Smart move by Parx
While Parx Chairman Bob Green is somewhat skeptical of expanding into online gambling (expressing his concerns in both the House Democratic Policy Committee and in the Senate hearing held this year) he also has stated that he doesn’t want Parx, one of the biggest revenue generators in Pennsylvania gaming, to get left behind when iGaming comes to town.
As I’ve said before, Parx isn’t for iGaming but they are going to be involved in it.
By launching a play-money casino Parx has a chance to preemptively test the appetite of Pennsylvanians for online gambling, and at the same time build a database of potential real-money customers to draw from, if and when an online gambling bill passes.
Online customers are different than live customers
One thing every legal online poker room run by a casino in the US has come to realize is that online gamblers are a different demographic than their brick & mortar customers.
Caesars, the Borgata, and Golden Nugget have all detailed their experiences in the regulated New Jersey market, and all three have found their new customer’s to be mainly made up of unknown players, and younger players at that.
There is some crossover (predominantly with online players frequenting the brick & mortar casinos more than their brick & mortar counterparts switching to online gambling) but by and large online players are a completely new and unknown demographic, which is why it’s so important to have a database to draw from.
But, play money customers are different than real money customers
While Parx will build up a solid database of customers to market to, the drawback is that play money customers do not convert to real money customers at a very high percentage.
Social and play money players tend to not spend money; they play for fun. According to James Stern of IGT/DoubleDown (who spoke at the Massachusetts online gambling forum earlier this year) only 3% of their social customers purchase additional play money chips, which while not indicative of play-money to real-money does provide us with the best estimate for the number of play money casino players that may deposit on the real-money site.
However, Parx would do well to consider offering a free $10 to customers who tried their play money site, essentially turning play-money customers into real-money customers, if only for a free trial period.
The Press Release
Here is a look at the press release announcing the deal between Parx and GameAccount:
London & Dublin | 22 July, 2014: GameAccount Network plc (“GameAccount Network” or the “Company”), a leading developer and supplier of enterprise-level B2B gaming software and online gaming content, announces a partnership with Parx Casino (‘Parx’) to launch a Simulated Gaming™ online experience for new customers and existing patrons.
Parx Casino is owned by Greenwood Racing, Inc and comprises a major thoroughbred racetrack & casino property in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. Parx is the market leader in Pennsylvania with a 30% share of the five-property eastern Pennsylvania casino market. It is expected that GameAccount Network and Parx Casino will launch a Simulated Gaming™ website in the fourth quarter of 2014 subject to customary approvals.
- Parx Casino is the leading casino property in Pennsylvania with a 30% share of the five-property eastern Pennsylvania casino market.
- Partnership is further validation of the GameAccount model of launching Simulated Gaming™ ahead of regulation of real-money gaming in select US states.
- The Pennsylvania legislature has engaged in discussions about Internet gaming and proposed legislation that would authorize Internet gaming has been introduced.
- GameSTACK™ Internet Gaming System will be deployed on-property at Parx for Simulated Gaming™ enabling an immediate upgrade to real-money Internet gaming upon passage of the required legislation.
- Parx’ patrons will be able to use their rewards cards to engage online playing recognizable US Class III casino slots translated online by GameAccount Network.
- Simulated Gaming™ enables land-based US casinos to tap into the Social Casino market worth an estimated $1bn per annum in the US in 2013.
Dermot Smurfit, CEO of GameAccount Network commented:
“2014 saw the launch of Simulated Gaming™ in the United States and Parx’ selection of our unique Internet gaming service is further validation of the monetization model, the underlying strength of our regulation-ready Internet Gaming System, the promotional capabilities of our back office and relevant appeal of our widening gaming portfolio. We are delighted to have been chosen as the iGaming platform provider by one of the leading Management Teams in the United States’ casino Industry.”
“We continue to deliver on the objectives set out at the time of our listing in November 2013 and partner with leading US casino brands to bring an iGaming experience to US consumers. Whether through Simulated Gaming™ or through regulated real-money gaming, we continue to expand our portfolio of games, grow our customer base and are confident in the prospects for our business.”
John Dixon, CTO of Greenwood Entertainment & Racing, Inc commented:
“GameAccount has demonstrated its Regulated Gaming capability in New Jersey and the merits of Simulated Gaming when integrated with a casino management system. By deploying their system on-property Parx Casino will have the opportunity to launch Simulated Gaming nationwide before year’s end and be well prepared in the event regulation of real money Internet gaming emerges in the State of Pennsylvania.”
Parx Casino Partnership
Parx Casino is the leading casino property in Pennsylvania operating over 3,200 machine slots and 150 table games which generated US$478m in gaming revenues in FY 2013/2014 ending June 2014 representing a reported 30% share of the five-property eastern Pennsylvania casino market.
Launching a Simulated Gaming™ proposition onto www.ParxCasino.com, integrated with Parx’ customer management system, will enable Parx’ patrons to use their rewards card to engage online playing recognizable US Class III casino slots translated online by GameAccount Network for casino equipment manufacturers.
A report prepared by Econsult Solutions, Inc. in May 2014 recommended that the Pennsylvania legislature pursue the authorization of intrastate Internet gaming. The report was commissioned in January 2014 by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, being a committee of the Pennsylvania General Assembly1.
Deploying the GameSTACK™ Internet Gaming System on-property at Parx Casino in Pennsylvania will ensure all Internet gaming activity remains on-property, with an immediate upgrade path in the event regulation of real money Internet gaming emerges in Pennsylvania.
Simulated Gaming™ is the innovative Internet gaming service designed by GameAccount Network specifically for land-based US casinos to launch in advance of prospective real-money internet gaming regulation. Simulated Gaming™ offers a gaming-as-entertainment consumer website enabled with unique monetization features and a compelling portfolio of over 100 casino slot, table and skill-based games including poker, backgammon, gin rummy, poker dice and blackjack tournaments.
Launched in the US by GameAccount Network in January 2014, Simulated Gaming™ has been proven to monetize Internet traffic to existing websites operated by land-based US casinos with more than 10% of players spending on average 3x more than players of Social Casino applications operated on Facebook.com. Simulated Gaming™ enables land-based US casinos to tap into the Social Casino market worth an estimated $1bn per annum in the United States in 2013, increases property visitation among existing patrons and drives acquisition of new patrons