Is Pennsylvania Ready for Online Gaming?

When Pennsylvania lawmakers made online casino and poker games legal in October of 2017, most people made the assumption that Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) would use New Jersey as a reference when considering licensing and other formalities to ensure that sites would be approved for the set launch date by the last end of 2018. However, this was not the case.

Waiting in anticipation

Anticipating gamers spent the entire year of 2018 and into 2019 awaiting an announcement or answers from the PGCB before finally receiving an announcement, or rather some news on the subject mentioned in Kevin O’Toole, Executive Director of PGCB’s, director’s speech at a regularly scheduled meeting on the 17th of April 2019.

O’Toole mentioned 3 online gaming operators and 10 online gaming certificate holders were set to be coordinated and go live commencing the 15th of July, 2019, giving the operators and regulators an ample amount of time to check all their boxes and get everything in order – preparing for the official launch. The state of Pennsylvania has plans to officially launch legal online poker during the @WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas, which should prove to be a very exciting week for poker players in the US.

He went on to note that some of the online gambling operators may not be able to meet the deadline for the launch timelines, however did not name the specific entities in question. That was the latest information released to the public, with no recent mention regarding who will be the first to launch or who will be affiliated with online casino and poker games – we have not heard more confirming if the launch date is still valid and on track either.

Here’s what we do know

We have compiled the names and basic information the casinos who have received their licenses for mostly online casino and poker games and then three for online table and slot games only:

  • Mohegan Sun Pocono with Downs Racing (No online poker gaming)
  • Valley Forge Casino Resort with Valley Forge (with PartyPoker as their poker partner)
  • The Casino Resort in Mount Airy with Mount Airy (with PokerStars as their poker partner)
  • Parx Casino with Greenwood Gaming (with Kambi/GAN as their poker partner)
  • Bethlehem’s Sands Casino Resort with Sans Bethworks Gaming (with an unknown poker partner)
  • Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course with Mountain View (with IGT as their poker partner)
  • Philadelphia’s Live!Casino with Stadium Casino (No online poker gaming)
  • Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack with Chester Downs (with 888 as their poker partner)
  • The Casino in Presque Isle Downs with Presque Isle Downs (no online poker gaming)
  • SugarHouse Casino with Sugarhouse HSP Gaming (with Rush Street as their poker partner)

It also shows that New Jersey’s Borgata opened a petition so they could receive an operation license for online casino and pokers games. Pennsylvania’s Golden Nugget filed to receive a license to operate casino games only. The PGCB deemed that both Borgata and Golden Nugget were qualified gaming entities and allowed both of them to apply as no licenses were claimed by casino operators based in Pennsylvania yet. Roar Digital, a US-focused wing of GVC – PartyPoker’s parent company, also has a pending application after a late application. Roar Digital is newly licensed in New Jersey and Nevada.

Gamers getting impatient

A tweet made by @brianpempus states the following:

“fwiw, PA took so long to kick off online casino gaming after legalizing it in 2017 that one of its online casinos is planning to rebrand before it even launches.”

This kick-off has been much anticipated by fans since the legalization of online gambling in 2017. Fans hope to hear more information as soon as possible.

Ready for the next update

The PGCB holds a monthly meeting, the next one taking place on Wednesday, the 10th of July 2018. At this meeting, we are hoping to hear if any of the previously mentioned operators are ready and prepared for the much-anticipated launch date of their online casino and/or poker games on the 15th of July. Gaming fans are ready to hear O’Toole’s updates on everything, including if the launch date will continue as planned or be changing. We also expect that he will be providing further details regarding the beta testing period’s length.

Online Gaming Self-Exclusion Program launched by PGCB

PGCB made an announcement at the end of May about the launch of its online gaming self-exclusion program using Pennsylvania’s land-based casino model as an example reference. This is a tool which allows any person or player to essentially ban themselves or voluntarily exclude themselves for a period of either one or five years, or their lifetime, should they wish, from any online sports betting or online gambling.

If a patron signs up to be voluntarily excluded, any and all online gambling sites are then notified and must ensure that they do not accept any monetary deposits from the individual or market any complimentary services, club memberships, mailings or promotions to those individuals.

Almost there

It seems as though Pennsylvania is making a good effort to be well prepared for the launch of their online gambling services and we are excited to hear confirmation of any further updates. In the meantime, Pennsylvania is indeed ready for online gaming to become available!

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Shihaam Isaacs


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