After weeks of restless waiting and lots of speculation, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) finally received applications for its interactive gaming licenses. As of this moment, three of the Keystone State’s casinos have become the first to forward their applications for the interactive gaming licenses that will allow them to offer online betting. They are Bethlehem-based Parx Casino, the Poconos-based Mt. Airy Casino and the yet to be built Stadium Casino that will be based in Philadelphia.
According to Douglas Harbach, the PGCB spokesperson, the three casinos filed petitions for the $10 million licenses that would allow them to offer online gaming services in three categories – non-peer-to-peer interactive table games, peer-to-peer interactive games like poker as well as interactive games that simulate slot machines.
The first window for the application ends on Monday, July 16 and if any of the licenses remain unsold by then, the PGCB will proceed to the next phase where the state’s 13 licensed casino operators will have the option to apply for the la carte licenses at a cost of $4 million each. This will only open for a month. If by August 16 there are still unclaimed licenses, the state regulator will open doors for qualified off-state operators or those that do not have casino licenses.
Parx Casino’s Change of Heart
Parx bid for an online casino license came as quite a surprise, particularly because during the same period last year the operator was actively campaigning against the state’s gambling expansion plans. This is perhaps because they hoped to maintain the status quo as the top-performing casino in Pennsylvania.
Their efforts eventually failed, obviously, and since then they have often spoken about the new gambling expansion regulations. Most recently, they were actively seeking to have the number of skins on individual gaming licenses limited for both online gaming and online sports betting. This bid was, fortunately for them, successful as now the laws require the online skins to prominently feature the brick-and-mortar casino’s brand – the same goes for sports betting sites.
Mount Airy’s Bright Future
Even though it is the smallest of the Category 2 casinos in Pennsylvania, Mt. Airy has some pretty big ambitions, especially in the online space. Its first step towards an online offering came in 2014 when it partnered with 888. Till October 2017 when the state legalized interactive gaming, 888 and Mt. Airy were only able to act as promotional partners – that legislation changed everything for the better.
Other than 888, Mt. Airy has also partnered with PokerStars for its online gaming venture. Since it is the licensee, these partnership deals will almost certainly include a portion of the revenue from the skins attached to its name. PokerStars and 888 are also quite valuable partners as they will allow Mt. Airy to tap into other off-state markets.