When the dust settled on Monday’s deadline for interactive gaming licenses, nine of Pennsylvania’s 13 casino operators threw their hat in the ring.
With the passage of House Bill 271 in October of last year, Pennsylvania legalized all forms of online gambling – including casino table games and slots, poker, daily fantasy sports (DFS), and sports betting.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PCGB) began the first 90-day round of license applications on April 16, and the final day of the process was July 16. Throughout the intervening three months, Pennsylvania’s 13 licensed casino operators had the first opportunity to apply for online gaming licenses.
The first application was submitted by Parx Casino on July 12, but by the time Monday’s deadline arrived, eight other casinos had joined the iGaming fray.
The full list of Pennsylvania’s nine iGaming applicants, in order of submission date, is as follows:
- Parx Casino, operated by Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, Inc. (received July 12, 2018)
- The unopened Live! Hotel and Casino Philadelphia operated by Stadium Casino, LLC (received July 13, 2018)
- Mount Airy Casino Resort, operated by Mount Airy #1, LLC (received July 13, 2018)
- Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, operated by Sands Bethworks Gaming, LLC (received July 16, 2018)
- Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, operated by Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association, LLC (received July 16, 2018)
- Valley Forge Casino Resort, Valley Forge Convention Center Partners, LP (received July 16, 2018)
- Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack, operated by Chester Downs and Marina, LLC (received July 16, 2018)
- Rivers Casino, operated by Holdings Acquisition Co., LP (received July 16, 2018)
- SugarHouse Casino, operated by Sugarhouse HSP Gaming, LP (received July 16, 2018)
By applying within the initial 90-day window, these nine casinos have elected to pay $10 million (upon approval) to provide three online gambling product lines – slots, table games, and poker.
The PGCB now has another 90 days to review the first round of applications, and assuming all nine applications are approved, Pennsylvania will collect an immediate $90 million payout on its iGaming gamble. That amount would greatly exceed the state treasury’s own predictions for iGaming licensing, as the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office estimated $54 million in first-year revenue derived from licensing.
The four casinos that have yet to apply for iGaming – Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin, Meadows Racetrack and Casino, Mohegan Sun Pocono, and Presque Isle Downs & Casino – still have until August 14 to submit. However, these operators missed out on the discounted $10 million rate, and will now have to pay $4 million apiece to offer each of the three iGaming verticals.
In a newsletter issued one day after the application deadline, iGaming industry analyst Eilers & Krejcik predicted that the four holdouts would pay $8 million to operate slots and table games, while declining to provide poker. This forecast took the performance of New Jersey’s five-year old iGaming industry into account, as the Garden State has seen poker revenue plummet in recent years, even while the casino sector thrives.
When the first 120-day window closes on August 14, Pennsylvania will begin accepting iGaming applications from casino companies that don’t currently operate within the state.
In addition to the seven- and eight-figure licensing fees, Pennsylvania’s gambling expansion law calls for taxes on annual revenue. Approved operators will pay 16 percent of poker and table game revenue to the state, while slot games will send 54 percent of the house’s take as taxes.
Of the combined haul, two percent of all iGaming taxes will be diverted to the local governments where host casinos are located.