For the past two months, Pennsylvania casinos and their iGaming partners waited patiently for a clarification on the all-important matter of “skins“, a term that refers to how many iGaming websites one casino can operate under a single license.
Parx Casino argued that casinos should only have one site per license. Meanwhile, global iGaming firm 888 argued that PA casinos should be able to feature multiple sites under one license.
This past week, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) provided clarity on the matter via a press release.
PGCB Executive Director Kevin O’Toole addressed the issue as part of the board’s update of its temporary regulations governing iGaming when it launches later this year:
“Under these temporary regulations there is no limitation on the number of skins that a slot machine licensee may employ to deliver games, but every ‘skin’ that a casino offers must be branded in a manner that makes it clear that it is offered on behalf of the slot machine licensee consistent with language of the act.”
PGCB statement is clear…to a certain extent
O’Toole’s quote would lead one to believe that Pennsylvania casinos could operate multiple iGaming websites with a single license.
The phrase “no limitation” is the driving force here. At first read, it seems to indicate that Pennsylvania’s online gambling industry could resemble what we see in New Jersey. In the Garden State, casinos can operate up to five casinos with one license.
However, the confusion comes later in the quote when O’Toole says that the site must clearly present the licensee’s branding. In other words, an online gambling website run under Mount Airy’s license must feature Mount Airy’s branding.
Websites could feature dual branding
The “must be branded in a manner that makes it clear that it is offered on behalf of the slot machine licensee ” phrasing presents a sort of hybrid skins model. Under this, a casino can run multiple sites as long as those sites reflect the casino’s branding.
The reason this format could be considered a hybrid is because it makes a nod to Parx’s argument that the site should only push the casino’s brand. However, it also considers 888’s argument that a casino should be able to operate multiple sites and leverage its partner’s brand power.
In a practical sense , this most likely would result in URL’s that would feature both the casino’s name and the operator’s name. For example, 888.mountairyonlinecasino.com.
For comparison’s sake, New Jersey’s Golden Nugget Casino runs four online casinos via its one license. These are:
The first two domains are Nugget-centric. They feature the name of the casino and nothing else. The second two, Betfaircasino.com and playsugarhouse.com, feature URL’s that reflect the partner operating under Golden Nugget’s license.
Based on what O’Toole said in his “clarification” quote, there’s a good chance that we won’t see an URL mentioning only the casino’s partner’s name.
However, the PGCB hasn’t clarified this point. Ttherefore, nothing can be concluded with certainty.