Online gambling has been legal in Pennsylvania since 2017. Here we are two years later and so far, only the state lottery is up and running on the internet, while the state’s 12 casinos have yet to launch online sports betting or online casino gambling.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) is the regulatory body concerning the issue of online gaming. The PGCB offered up licensing for both sports betting in-person as well as online. Included in the online gambling licenses issued by the PGCB is both traditional casino gaming, such as slots, table games and poker, as well as sports betting.
The Parx Casino, which is one of the largest in the state, had a meeting with the PGCB last week regarding its request for a five-year renewal of its casino license. During that hearing, the Parx Casino told the PGCB that they plan on launching their online casino platforms come June.
Online gaming was expected to launch sometime in early 2019 during the first quarter, but due to a recent legal opinion from the federal government pertaining to the Wire Act, the Pennsylvania casino industry’s progress towards the launch of online gaming has been set back.
Online launch dates in Pennsylvania have been changed numerous time. First, they were expected to be launched at the start of 2019. Then the goal was before the Super Bowl, followed by the start of March Madness. Soon enough it became Opening Day of the MLB season, and now the goal seems to be mid-summer, before the kickoff of the 2019 NFL season.
PGCB Executive Director Kevin O’Toole is a little less optimistic than the Parx Casino. O’Toole recently told the House Appropriations Committee that online casinos could launch “as early as June, but in all likelihood, it will be July.”
Anthony Ricci, CEO of the Parx’s parent company, Greenwood Racing Inc., said the casino is concerned about the state allowing casino developers without a brick-and-mortar casino in the state to offer online gambling that isn’t attached to a facility. “All they have is a server, and they could spend more on marketing,” Ricci said.
The MGM and Golden Nugget are two prime examples of that issue. Both have internet betting businesses in other states and are looking to launch games in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is one of the biggest states in terms of gambling, outside of Nevada. The sports betting market in the Keystone State is expected to be one of the highest in the country as well, which is drawing a lot of attention from operators looking to get into the Pennsylvania market with the likes of Sugarhouse who already operates inside the state.
Pennsylvania is eyeing the possibility of a coordinated roll-out of online gaming. If so, that would level the playing field and prevent any operator from getting an advantage on the rest of the competition. For Pennsylvania residents, that day can’t come soon enough.