Pennsylvania is gearing up to follow New Jersey’s lead in providing online gambling for its citizens as recent fluidity in the state’s casino market is creating an atmosphere for great change. Four of the state's twelve casinos have been sold and the construction of a 13th was officially approved and should start in the near future.
This all in the wake of the state’s passage of a comprehensive bill that legalized and established regulation guidelines for online gambling last October. Last week, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) announced it would be accepting petitions from those brick-and-mortar casinos that wished to create and operate their own online gambling websites for patrons within the state's borders.
Starting April 16, the PGCB stated, there will be 13 Internet Gaming Certificates available. In-state land-based casino operators will be given first priority and have 120 days to submit applications before out-of-state entities are given their opportunity to buy in and take advantage of the potentially lucrative market.
Suppliers and manufacturers are allowed to apply for approval of operation on April 2. Casinos will have the option of purchasing online game packages divided into three categories: peer to peer games (online poker), online slots and online table games. Casinos can choose to buy and offer all three for $10 million or buy individual options for $4 million each, so a potential $2 million discount if bundled.
It can be reasonably assumed that among the applicants will be Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) which recently purchased the Presque Isle Downs and Casino back on March 1st of this year. While the company began with one racetrack, the annual host of the Kentucky Derby has grown as a leader in US gambling scene.
Currently CDI owns over ten facilities and entities across the country including Arlington Park in Illinois and Calder Casino and Race Course in Miami. While its currently one of the smallest casinos in the state in revenue, CDI CEO Bill Carstanjen hopes to build the establishment up through the expansion of online gambling:
“Presque Isle will give us a foothold in Pennsylvania which has recently passed legislation authorizing real money online gaming.”
The company’s website further elaborates:
"CDI’s investment in online wagering technology and customer support systems also positions the company to take advantage of additional Internet gaming opportunities, such as online poker, as those activities are authorized at the state or federal level."
Other casinos that have officially announced their intentions to get in the game are Parx Casino in Philadelphia, which has partnered with software developer GAN, and Mount Airy Casino Resort in Mt. Pocono, which has partnered with 888, one of the major players currently in New Jersey.
Sugar House Casino in Philadelphia, which has partnered with Rush Street Interactive and Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, has also announced their intentions. Harrah’s Philadelphia and Mohegan Sun Casino have also indicated interest and are very likely to throw their hats in the ring as both maintain a presence in New Jersey.
It’s not difficult to see why the Keystone State would wish to emulate and compete with New Jersey. As one of now four states that allow online gambling, the other two being Nevada and Delaware, New Jersey has enjoyed substantial financial benefits in recent years from the new, budding industry.
Since legalization in 2013 the business has generated over $766 million in revenue and is expected to hit the $1 billion-mark by the end of 2020. In this year alone, New Jersey’s gambling websites pulled in $21.96 million in January and $21.99 million in February setting new highs for monthly profits.
With the recent announcement by the PGCB, Pennsylvania’s brand new online casino industry can be projected to be launched as early as this November. When the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement outlined its intent after passing similar legislation it took around nine months to get its websites up.
When it does get off the ground, it should provide a much needed boost to the state’s casinos and give credence to the plethora of changes and shifting ownership that’s become commonplace in the state.
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