The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) granted another group of PA online gambling licenses and the state’s first sports betting licenses at its Oct. 3 meeting.
The PGCB approved applications for a $10 million license to operate online slots, online table games, and online poker for both Valley Forge Casino Resort and Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem.
Sands lacks online gambling plan
The PGCB granted Sands a license despite its lack of a concrete online gambling plan. Owner Las Vegas Sands Corporation‘s founder, chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson is an anti-online gambling zealot. He continually pushes a plan to have the federal Wire Act restored.
However, Las Vegas Sands is selling Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians’ Wind Creek Hospitality. The $1.3 billion sale has yet to close. However, in the meantime, Sands applied for an online gambling license on Wind Creek’s behalf.
Sands representatives told the PGCB it did so without any knowledge of what Wind Creek planned to do with the license. They also confirmed if the sale somehow falls through, Sands will forfeit the $10 million fee and leave the licenses unused.
Wind Creek representatives admitted to the PGCB it still doesn’t have an online gambling plan. They said the company remains focused on the acquisition itself.
Regardless, the PGCB voted unanimously to approve Sands’ online gambling license application.
Valley Forge eyes November
The PGCB also unanimously approved Valley Forge Casino Resort’s online gambling license application. However, the King of Prussia property has a concrete plan.
In fact, Valley Forge gave the PGCB the following list of online gaming partners it plans to use to launch online gambling products as soon as November:
- IGT — iGaming platform
- GAN — Player account functions and risk management
- GeoComply — Geolocation
- Aristotle — Age and identity verification
Valley Forge has also partnered with FanDuel with a plan to launch an online and mobile sports betting product before long. A sports betting license will cost the organization an additional $10 million and allow it to run a sportsbook online and on the property.
The PGCB has now approved seven online gambling license applications:
- Harrah’s Philadelphia
- Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course
- Mount Airy Casino Resort
- Parx Casino
- Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem
- SugarHouse Casino
- Valley Forge Casino Resort
Three PA casino license holders still have pending applications:
- Mohegan Sun Pocono
- Presque Isle Downs (slots and table games only)
- Stadium Casino (under construction)
Ten licenses are still available, including two online slots, two online table games and three online poker licenses. The PGCB has invited qualified gaming entities to apply for the licenses. It will grant the licenses through a random draw. The period to apply runs from Oct. 15-31.
PA’s first sportsbooks
In the meantime, the PGCB also granted PA’s first two sports betting licenses.
The PGCB granted conditional approval for sports betting to both Penn National Gaming and Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment.
Penn National Gaming plans to open a sportsbook at its Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville within the next few months.
Greenwood is targeting November for the launch of sports betting at its Parx Casino, and January for a mobile sports betting product. However, a second sportsbook it applied for permission to open at its South Philadelphia Turf Club may have to wait a little longer.
The state’s Office of Enforcement Council recommended the off-track betting facility wait to launch sports betting until Parx proves its sports betting tech works at the casino.
Greenwood lawyers claimed PA laws don’t require this, but the PGCB meeting ended without a final resolution on the issue.
Penn National Gaming and William Hill
Penn National Gaming is partnering with the largest sportsbook operator in the country, William Hill US, to open its Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course sportsbook.
Company representatives told the PGCB the operation will run inside its racebook’s simulcast theater on the second level of the property. The sportsbook will be 5,000 square feet and include:
- Six betting windows
- Two odds boards
- 110-inch video wall
- Three dozen 55-inch TVs with major sports programming packages
Penn National Gaming also expressed a keen interest in launching a mobile sports betting product at a later date.
The Parx sports betting plan
Greenwood representatives told the PGCB its plan is to open a temporary sportsbook at the 360 Lounge on the Parx casino floor. Construction of a permanent facility is already underway with plans to open in the second quarter of 2019.
Greenwood representatives claim the temporary space will be ready to open in November with both retail and mobile wagering via closed Wi-Fi network. It plans to launch mobile sports betting that is available statewide in January.
Features of the temporary sportsbook include:
- Seven betting windows
- 12 self-service kiosks (plus 30 more kiosks throughout the casino)
- Several 16-by-9-foot HD televisions
Greenwood is also looking to launch sports betting at its Valley Forge Turf Club off-track betting facility.
Three other PA casino license holders have sports betting license applications pending:
- Rivers Casino
- SugarHouse Casino
- Harrah’s Philadelphia
The PGCB’s next meeting is Oct. 31.