With its application for a land-based mini-casino near Penn State University stalled indefinitely, Bally’s Pennsylvania, LLC is looking to another method for securing PA gaming licenses. On Jan. 3, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board began accepting petitions for casino operators in other states to gain status as a Qualified Gaming Entity in PA. Bally’s Casino was the first to file a petition promptly on the first day.
QGE status allows the out-of-state operators to apply for one or more of the 12 available iGaming licenses that remain in the state, without partnering with a brick-and-mortar casino.
The available licenses are for PA online casino apps and websites in three categories. Three licenses are available for online slots, three for online table games and six are available for online poker.
In the petition, Bally’s expressed interest in licenses for online slots and table games.
Bally’s previous PA casino license attempts have stalled
In 2020, investor Ira Lubert bid on a license for a mini-casino outside of State College in partnership with Bally’s. Lubert won the auction with a bid of just over $10 million.
But rival casino operator Cordish Gaming challenged the legitimacy of the bid in a lawsuit against the PGCB and Lubert’s company, in an attempt to acquire the license themselves. Cordish contends that Lubert’s company is partially owned or backed by individuals that weren’t eligible to bid on the license.
Cordish was the second-highest bidder in the auction, and currently operates Live! Casino and Hotel Philadelphia.
The PCGB had no intent of revoking the license after the complaint, but the court will ultimately decide.
Bally Casino QGE approval seems likely
Despite the ongoing case challenging the Centre County mini-casino, Bally’s name is unsullied and QGE status will likely be awarded. According to Bally’s petition, their licenses in other states are all in good standing. They’ve never been denied a license, or had a license suspended, revoked or expired.
Bally’s currently operates properties in 10 states, including 14 brick-and-mortar casinos and a horse racetrack. Their offerings across those states also include online casino gaming, online bingo, daily fantasy sports and sports betting apps.
New PA casino licenses could bring new gaming options
Operators haven’t had the opportunity to join the PA market without a land-based casino partnership since 2018, during the first petition period. With the newly available access to PA, we might see some new casinos going online in the new year.
Among the possibilities are top iGaming operators in neighboring New Jersey, such as Virgin Casino and Hard Rock, which don’t currently have a presence in PA. Another interesting possibility is PlayStar Casino, a Scandinavian company that is new to the US market.
PlayStar has partnered with Ocean Casino Resort in NJ to operate its online casino, which is known for its personalized user experience and rewards, such as vouchers to restaurants and services, other gifts and cashback.
The board will accept petitions until March 3. This gives other out-of-state operators plenty of time to throw their hat in the ring.