The wait is almost over for the casino operators who have been eagerly waiting for Pennsylvania’s long-awaited online gambling licenses as the Pennsylvanian Gaming Control Board begins processing the licenses in just a few weeks.
During a recent House budget hearing, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Boards (PGCB) Executive Director Kevin O’Toole confirmed that the agency is already in the process of crafting some temporary regulations for online gambling and they should be released soon enough. He further confirmed that the PGCB is expecting the first wave of online applications to arrive by April which will kick off the 90-day application period that is expected to run from mid-April all the way to mid-July.
During this period, an all-in-one license encompassing online slots, online table games and online peer-to-peer gaming like poker will also be availed to interested operators at a price that totals to $10 million – this price is a relatively discounted price for Pennsylvanian casino operators like Churchill Downs and Parx Casino who have been craving for the opportunity to operate online casinos in the state.
The new Pennsylvania that was passed last year allows any of the state’s brick-and-mortar casinos including Sands Bethlehem that was recently sold by Sheldon Adelson, one of the casino moguls who has never been for the ideas online gambling.
However, since only Pennsylvania-based land-based casinos are allowed to apply for the licenses it is likely that other global poker sites such as PokerStars and PartyPoker will be looking to partner with some of the Pennsylvanian casinos. Still, they may opt to wait as the window for the application for non-Pennsylvanian operators is set to open 120 days after the application period for the state’s operators begins next month.
The Application Process
Each operator will be required to submit an application to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and pay a licensing fee of $10 million if they intend to offer online slots, online poker as well as online table games. Alternatively, casinos interested in offering two or fewer forms of gambling will be allowed to opt for the la carte option that goes for $4 million apiece.
With 13 brick-and-mortar casinos currently operating in the state and each being eligible to offer between one and three forms of online gambling, there are potentially 39 licenses to be awarded. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that all the casino operators, especially the smaller ones, will be able willing to dish out the $10 million required for the application.
Furthermore, statistics show that online poker generates only a fraction of what slots and table games bring in. Thus, it is likely that some of the Pennsylvanian casinos will be reluctant to spend $10 million or thereabouts if they don’t see online poker being as profitable as their other operations.