Back in October 2017, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed the House Bill which would officially legalize online gambling in the Keystone State. Now, approximately 18 months later, the endeavor seems to be coming full circle. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board sent out a statement informing that online gambling will officially begin on July 15.
- After 18 months, the first official date for PA online casino and sports betting is July 15.
- Existing land-based casino establishments to offer online brands with gambling content.
- Projected boosts in revenue for the state budget
- Uncertainties due to the Wire Act remain present
Pennsylvania Online Gambling Ready for Takeoff
The executive director of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, Kevin O’Toole made an official statement last Wednesday, April 17th at a scheduled meeting:
The staff has reviewed the estimated time that it would take for us and the industry to complete all necessary steps, and it is our view that 90 days would be adequate. Accordingly, I have advised the 10 iGaming certificate holders and three iGaming operators that a coordinated go-live period for interactive gaming will commence on July 15, 2019.
With the 90 days ticking away steadily, Pennsylvania is more poised than ever to become the fourth state in the US to offer legal online casino, poker, and sportsbook services to its residents. Retail locations of specific sportsbooks are already operating across the state, and their online counterparts are expected to launch in the coming weeks.
Pennsylvania Legal Online Gambling
The online casino and poker, as well as sports betting segments, make the most difference to the Pennsylvania interactive gambling industry. Casino brands, on the one hand, will be provided by 10 out of the total 13 land-based casino venues in the state.
The three ‘odd ones out’ – Lady Luck Nemacolin, Meadows, and Rivers didn’t use their right to apply for a license, while the rest have been certified by the respective Gaming Control Board. With an initial price at $10 million for all three gambling licenses, these casinos are definitely expecting this to turn into a lucrative source of revenue.
Online Poker and Sports Betting
In terms of poker, specifically, PokerStars is expected to establish a presence on the market through Mount Airy’s license, while the Harrah’s would boast both WSOP and 888 Poker brands. Hollywood, Sands, Valley Forge, and Parx are part of the remaining licensees, with Partypoker being yet another expected entrant to the largely untapped territory.
Sports betting operators are limited to one brand per license, coming at a cost of $10 million apiece. In this line of thought:
- FanDuel Sportsbook will enter the market through Valley Forge
- BetStars will operate through the Mount Airy license
- SugarHouse Sportsbook will cater to PA sports bettors through SugarHouse
What About the Wire Act Opinion?
The much debated 18-months delay in Pennsylvania online gambling was largely due to market preparations. Nevertheless, a recent change in the Wire Act interpretation on behalf of the DOJ added to that wait time.
A court process has been started in New Hampshire, with Pennsylvania’s support on the matter. Despite the lack of a final decision, all operators compliant with the new opinion regarding the Wire Act are expected to move forward with the announced launch.
High Revenue Expectations
As it stands, the state operators are expected to keep online poker player pools within its borders. Should this be the final outcome, the Pennsylvania market would become the largest in the country on July 15, with no other legal online gambling state packing more than four poker networks.
Ultimately, revenue projections set at $173 million for the General Fund were practically surpassed, with eight licensed sportsbooks bringing in $10 million each for license applications. Table games tax revenue brought in $130 million, without accounting for online slots, meaning profits are expected to increase even further as the market launch comes full circle.