The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced this week it will begin accepting applications for interactive gaming platforms on June 4. This Despite the fact the interactive gaming platform providers aren’t sure exactly what they will be applying for just yet.
Interactive gaming platform providers are not online casino operators. Instead, these are the companies that provide technology and software platforms for online casinos. Companies like Gamesys, GVC Holdings, NYX Gaming Group, and GAN have been providing software platforms for New Jersey online gaming sites since online gambling launched there in 2013.
Clearly, these tech companies will be applying for the right to provide software platforms for online casinos in Pennsylvania. It’s how many sites PA online casino license holders will be able to operate using these software platforms that are still in question.
PGCB approves online gaming regulations
The gaming board approved two sets of regulations related to PA online casinos and online poker last week. Missing was any language addressing whether or not there will be a limit on the number of online gambling websites licensees can launch. Multiple websites operating under a single license holder are referred to as skins.
New Jersey limits the number of skins allowed to operate under a single online gambling licensee to five. Experts say this has helped maximize both operator and state revenue from online gambling.
However, representatives from Parx Casino and Racing and Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course have told the board it wants it to limit the number of skins in PA to as little as one.
This appears to be a misguided effort to prevent the online gambling market in PA from cannibalizing the existing land-based casino industry. Misguided because most industry insiders agree that allowing multiple skins will be good for the entire industry and help revenue growth across the board.
Two PA lawmakers, Reps. Rosita Youngblood and Jason Ortitay, recently said legislators never had any intent on placing a limit on skins.
Skins question remains
PA casinos have been invited to apply for online gambling licenses beginning April 16. But with the licenses for online slots, table games, and poker costing $10 million for all three or $4 million separately, the casinos will want to know where the state officially stands on the issue of skins before applying.
The interactive gaming platform licenses come with a $1 million licensing fee attached. So, clearly online gambling software platform providers want an answer on skins sooner rather than later as well.
The board is planning to approve the third set of online gambling regulations at its next meeting on April 2. It is expected the skins issue will be addressed in these new regulations. Key players in the fledgling PA online gambling industry certainly hope so.
Gaming platform application a lengthy process
In the meantime, there’s time to pour over the extensive 59-page interactive gaming platform application. It’s currently available on the board’s website.
A document that size, and steps like fingerprinting and background checks to follow, suggest the process will be a long one.
The licensing process for online gambling operators will likely run into September. As a result, it initially appeared online gambling sites could launch in PA by the fourth quarter.
However, this June 4 deadline for interactive gaming platform licenses and the lengthy process to follow may change things. In fact, it may even push the state’s online gambling launch into 2019.