The news came via the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) Twitter account on Aug. 17:
Gaming Control Board has received first petition to request offering sports wagering from Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing, operator of @HollywoodPenn
— PGCB (@PAGamingControl) August 17, 2018
Penn National Gaming in PA
Penn National Gaming is based in Wyomissing, PA and currently operates 29 casino and racetrack facilities in 16 states and Canada. This includes two PA casino and racetrack properties:
- Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville
- The Meadows Racetrack & Casino in Washington
If its sports betting license application is approved, Penn National Gaming will have the right to launch both live and online sports betting out of its Hollywood Casino location.
Penn National Gaming and William Hill US
The company says it will partner with leading US sportsbook operator William Hill US for both brick and mortar retail and mobile sports betting.
William Hill US is Nevada’s largest sportsbook operator. It also recently opened two sportsbooks in the budding New Jersey sports betting market:
- Monmouth Park Sports Book by William Hill in Oceanport, NJ
- William Hill Sports Book at Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City, NJ
Penn National Gaming VP Fred Lipkin issued a statement saying the company’s plans include turning Hollywood Casino’s simulcast theater into a William Hill sportsbook:
“Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course today formally applied for a license to conduct sports wagering at our facility. We believe this will provide us another attractive amenity at Hollywood Casino, in addition to our full suite of the latest slot machines, table games, multiple dining outlets, exciting live racing and soon to be online gaming offerings. Our plan is to locate our sports book in a newly renovated simulcast theater area at Hollywood Casino and the operations will managed by William Hill US, the largest sports betting operator in the United States. Operations are expected to begin later this Fall upon final approval by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.”
PA sports betting regulations
The application was filed just days after the Board released a series of temporary sports betting regulations designed to govern sports betting in PA. The regulations include a stipulation allowing just a single online skin for sports betting license holders. That skin must prominently feature the name of the property.
The regulations also ask casino license holders to apply for a sports betting license 90 days ahead of launch. This would put the launch of sports betting at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in mid-November. However, the Board has the right to approve the launch ahead of that.
The earliest that could happen would be the Board’s next meeting on Sept. 12. The Penn National Gaming application says Hollywood Casino could be ready to start taking bets Sept. 30.
Penn National Gaming and William Hill US are also preparing to launch sports betting at five Mississippi casinos. Plus, the pair recently obtained a sportsbook license to operate at Hollywood Casino Charles Town in West Virginia. These sportsbooks plan to launch Sept. 1.
PA sports betting tax
Prior to the news, speculation was PA casinos were hesitant to apply for sports betting because the state’s $10 million licensing fee and 36 percent sports betting tax rate will make it hard for sportsbooks to turn a profit.
Back in May, Penn National Gaming spokesman Eric Schippers said the tax rate was certainly influencing its sports betting plan:
“We haven’t made a final determination on whether to pursue what is the highest rate on the planet for sports betting. If Penn National does get in in Pennsylvania, (it will) try to do it at the very lowest cost because the state has strangled the goose on this one.”