Pennsylvania casinos can apply for the state’s first online gambling licenses beginning April 16.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) announced Wednesday it will allow licensed Pennsylvania casinos to petition the board for Interactive Gaming Certificates for a period of 120 days beginning in Mid-April.

After obtaining the certificate, the casinos will be authorized to offer online gambling in three different categories. The categories include:

  • Peer-to-peer interactive games where players compete against other players, including online poker.
  • Non-peer-to-peer interactive games where players compete against dealers, including online blackjack and other table games.
  • Non-peer-to-peer interactive games which simulate slot machines online.

In the first 90 days, beginning April 16, existing Pennsylvania casinos can petition the board for an Interactive Gaming Certificates covering all three online gambling categories. These come with an authorization fee of $10 million.

From the 91st day until the 120-day licensing period is over, existing Pennsylvania casinos can petition the board for an Interactive Gaming Certificates covering one or more separate online gambling categories. The authorization fee for each is set at $4 million.

Qualified gaming entities next

Once the 120-day licensing period is over, other qualified gaming entities may apply for any remaining Interactive Gaming Certificates. However, each qualified gaming entity must be deemed suitable by the board first.

Pennsylvania law allows for the issuance of a total of 13 Interactive Gaming Certificates for each online gambling category. That makes for a total of 39 certificates.

The board’s Executive Director Kevin O’Toole addressed PA online gambling’s timeline during a recent House budget hearing. He said the board is in the process of crafting temporary regulations which will govern online gambling operations in the state.

The licensing process isn’t likely to conclude until September. Add that to the ongoing crafting of temporary regulations and it appears the first online gambling sites in the state won’t be up and running until the fourth quarter of 2018.

Who wants a PA online gambling license?

However, which existing PA casino operations are interested in offering online gambling in all three categories will be clear by July. Plus, it will be clear if existing casinos intend to snatch up all available licenses. Or, if outside entities will be allowed to enter the online gambling market in the state at all.

Most experts agree the state’s casinos are likely to apply for most, if not all, available licenses.

However, the state has yet to clarify whether it will limit the number of branded websites, or skins, online gambling operators can possess under each license.

A decision on the skins issue could have a significant impact on the number of casinos applying for licenses.

The board will meet again March 21 with the skins issue still unresolved.