The fact that MGM Resorts International has a deal in place to buy Sands Bethlehem is not a secret.

But the part of the equation we don’t know: When will the deal will close? The short answer: We might not know for months.

The sale of Sands Bethlehem won’t happen quickly

A new report from WFMZ-69 broke down what exactly happens in Pennsylvania when a casino is sold.

Not surprisingly, it’s not a simple process. Anything that involves the transfer of a gaming license will get thorough vetting — even with a company as widely respected and regulated as MGM.

Doug Harbach, communications director for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, did not get into specifics on the deal, which isn’t complete. But he did talk with WFMZ in broad strokes about what would happen if the sale takes place:

“They need to petition the board for what’s called a change of control,” said Harbach. “From there, our investigative unit will do work on the new potential holder of that license, in this case it would be MGM.”

Because MGM does not operate any casinos yet in Pennsylvania, the process would take longer.

“You’d be starting from the ground up,” said Harbach.

Harbach concluded that six months could be a likely timeframe, once the process actually starts.

MGM expanding its East Coast footprint

If MGM does come to PA, it’s the latest signal that it wants to make its presence felt on the Eastern seaboard.

Some of the other MGM moves of late:

Perhaps too late for helping PA online gambling

The presence of Las Vegas Sands Corporation in the state has hampered efforts to legalize PA online casinos.

Sands’ CEO, Sheldon Adelson, is vehemently opposed to online gambling of any type, anywhere. His company’s stake in Sands Bethlehem has allowed him to push back against the possibility of online gambling in PA as a casino owner in the state.

While Sands still has interest in the state, its lobbying will still have some pull. However, if it’s clear the sale will go through during ongoing gambling talks in the state, the chances of online gambling likely increase. MGM would be a willing participant in iGaming, instead of an opponent, and online gambling could use all the help in can get in the statehouse.