Carlisle Tells Parx No Means No On That Mini-Casino

The Harrisburg suburb of Carlisle is making it clear it doesn’t want a mini-casino despite the persistence of Parx Casino’s effort to put one there.

The Harrisburg suburb of Carlisle is making it quite clear it really doesn’t want a mini-casino.

When lawmakers authorized the construction of up to 10 mini-casinos across the state as a part of a gambling expansion law passed in October 2017, they gave PA municipalities an out.

Individual municipalities that didn’t want casino gambling inside their borders could simply opt-out by passing a resolution, then forwarding it to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) before the end of the year.

More than 1,000 of Pennsylvania’s 2,500 municipalities opted out, including Carlisle.

In fact, Carlisle council voted 4-2 in December 2017 to opt out of allowing a mini-casino there. However, that hasn’t stopped the company behind the state’s top-grossing casino from trying to change its mind.

The persistence of Parx

Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, owner and operator of Parx Casino & Racing in Bensalem, won the fourth auction for PA mini-casino construction rights in February after a bit of drama.

Sands Bethworks Gaming, LLC, owner Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, actually submitted the highest bid. It’s $9.9 million bid was accepted by the board, until board members figured out the area where Sands planned to build intruded on an area already claimed in a previous winning bid. That previous bid was from the owners of Mount Airy Casino Resort.

Sands’ bid was invalidated and Greenwood’s second-biggest $8.1 million bid to build in Cumberland County was accepted instead.

That gave Greenwood six months to submit an application for a Category 4 slot machine license. The application must include specific details regarding the exact location where it plans to build a mini-casino in Cumberland.

At the time, Greenwood officials said the growing population in Cumberland and surrounding counties, and the Interstate 81 corridor running through it, made it a perfect location. Each Category 4 mini-casino can operate between 300 and 750 slot machines and 30 table games. The operators can also petition PGCB after one year to add 10 more table games.

Last month, it became clear Greenwood officials were eyeing Carlisle as a possible location. In fact, in an effort to get it to rescind its previous resolution and opt back into allowing mini-casinos, they met with Carlisle council.

The Greenwood Gaming pitch

Greenwood Gaming CEO Anthony Ricci made a presentation to council May 2 claiming a mini-casino in Carlisle could bring in 250 full-time, permanent and above minimum wage jobs. Plus, it would inject as much as $50 million into the local community.

Additionally, Ricci said the operation would put $1 million into both Carlisle and Cumberland County coffers.

However, according to The Sentinel, a daily newspaper based in Carlisle, several residents in attendance raised serious concerns about what a mini-casino would do to the area.

One called slot machines the crack cocaine of gambling. Others claimed gambling targets the poor and addiction-prone.

The overwhelming sentiment appeared to be Carlisle residents don’t want the negative consequences often perceived to come with casino gambling.

Carlisle gives a clear no

A week later, Carlisle Mayor Tim Scott opened the Carlisle council meeting with a simple statement. He said the council was not in favor of a mini-casino there. With the majority opposed, there are no plans to take up the issue any further.

Mayor Scott also posted on the social media site Nextdoor claiming council had no plans to reconsider its decision to opt out on mini-casinos.

Rumors had Greenwood Gaming eyeing a soon-to-be-empty Bon-Ton store at The Point at Carlisle Plaza Mall. Now it appears it will have to look elsewhere. But if Greenwood remains focused on the I-81 corridor, that could prove tough. Like Carlisle, several area municipalities have already opted out.

Greenwood Gaming’s six months to apply for a license with location details will be up in August.

Delaware’s First Legal Sports Bet Was On A Pennsylvania Team

Delaware became the first state outside of Nevada to launch legal single-game sports wagering on Tuesday, with Delaware Gov. John Carney making the first bet on the Philadelphia Phillies to beat the Chicago Cubs.

Delaware became the first state outside of Nevada to launch legal single-game sports wagering on Tuesday, with Delaware Gov. John Carney making the first bet on the Philadelphia Phillies to beat the Chicago Cubs.

Born in Delaware, Gov. Carney admitted to being a life-long Philadelphia sports fan. He said he wouldn’t think of betting on teams from any other city:

“Today, I’m going to be the first here outside of Las Vegas to make a legal wager on one of those Philadelphia teams: The Fightin’ Phils… There will be no bets from this governor on any other teams than the Philadelphia teams.”

The Delaware state capital of Dover is just 80 miles from Philadelphia. Plus, Wilmington, Delaware’s largest city, is just 30 miles away.

At 1:30 p.m. when the betting windows officially opened inside Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, Gov. Carney bet $10 on the Philadelphia Phillies verses the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The money line on the Phillies was +200. The Phillies went on to beat the Cubs 6-1.

Delaware sports betting

Delaware announced last week full-scale sports betting operations would launch at all three Delaware casinos on Tuesday.

In addition to Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, the state’s casinos include:

  • Delaware Park
  • Harrington Raceway & Casino

The Delaware Lottery single-game wagering sports betting product, Sports Pick, is now available at sportsbooks inside all three casinos.

The Delaware Lottery already offered NFL parlay betting, a product that will continue to be available at various lottery retailers and bars. However, full-scale sports wagering is only available at sportsbooks inside the casinos.

The US Supreme Court‘s May 14 decision to declare the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) unconstitutional opened the door for states to join Nevada in legalizing single-game sports wagering.

New Jersey fought PASPA in the courts, but lawmakers there are still putting together regulatory sports betting legislation. Delaware was able to open up its local sports betting market first because the legal framework for sports betting inside its borders was already there.

Pennsylvania sports betting

Pennsylvania passed sports betting legislation pending the Supreme Court decision as a part of a comprehensive gambling expansion bill given the thumbs up by lawmakers in October 2017.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board invited the state’s 13 existing casino license holders to apply for the right to establish sportsbooks last week. However, PA casinos appear to have balked at the $10 million licensing fee and 36 percent sports betting tax rate the state plans to charge. So far, no casino has applied for a sportsbook license in PA.

For now, Pennsylvanians who want to bet legally on sports will have to go to Delaware to do it.

Fortunately, Delaware Park is just 45 minutes from Philadelphia. Plus, Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway & Casino are both less than a two-hour drive away.

Photo by Donald B. Kravitz, DBKphoto / Shutterstock.com

Get Ready To Log On To The PA iLottery

The Pennsylvania Lottery soft-launched its online lottery website this week, offering the first-ever legal and regulated online gambling products available in the state.

The Pennsylvania Lottery soft-launched its online lottery website this week, offering the first ever legal and regulated online gambling products available in the state.

State lawmakers authorized online lottery sales and online gambling as a part of a comprehensive gambling expansion package passed in October 2017.

The regulatory and licensing process for Pennsylvania online gambling is currently ongoing. The first PA online casino and online poker sites are likely to launch in the fourth quarter of 2018.

However, the Pennsylvania Lottery started online lottery sales on its new PAilottery.com website May 29. Real-money PA iLottery games are also available now on the Pennsylvania Lottery official mobile app.

Real-money PA iLottery games

Players can’t buy traditional scratch-off, Fast Play or draw game tickets like Powerball or Mega Millions online right now. These PA Lottery products remain available only at one of more than 9,400 lottery retailers across the state.

However, real-money PA iLottery games now available online include 11 instant win games. These are essentially digital scratch-offs with bonus rounds and other user customization features. PA iLottery instant win games start at $0.01 per round. Players must be 18 years or older to play online.

The instant win game titles now available include:

  • Foxin’ Wins Reveal
  • Super CashBuster
  • Big Money Slingo
  • Big Foot Reveal
  • Crossword Cash
  • Cash in the Lamp
  • Super Gems
  • Robin Hood Reveal
  • Volcano Reveal
  • Monster Wins Reveal
  • CashBuster Towers

Free-to-play demos of all the games are also available on the website.

PA iLottery games are accessible on PC or Mac desktop or laptop computers. Plus, the games are available for most iPhone and iPad (iOS) or Android tablet or mobile device users through the PA Lottery official app.

All the games are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

How to play PA iLottery games

Players must sign up for a PA iLottery account, and fund that account, in order to play the games for real money.

Signing up for an account requires clicking the Sign-Up tab on the website. Then they create a username and password by entering various required personal information.

Making a deposit is a safe and secure process thanks to the PA Lottery using advanced security and encryption technology. This ensures secure transactions and protects player privacy.

The PA Lottery is promising to make other deposit methods available. However, the site is only accepting Visa and MasterCard Debit Card deposits at this time.

Players are free to purchase available PA iLottery products on the site once the account is funded. All prizes won will be paid directly into that same account.

At launch, the PA Lottery is offering a free $5 bonus to anyone who signs up for a PA iLottery account.

Players that sign up will see the bonus in their account immediately and can use it to start playing. The bonus does have a one-time playthrough requirement. This means no withdrawals until the $5 has been wagered. All winnings accrued while gambling with the bonus can be kept.

Players can track the bonus and progress on the one-time play through requirement under the My Account and My Bonuses tabs on the site.

Pennsylvania Has Already Sold Over $2 Million In Keno Tickets

Keno is being hailed a hit in Pennsylvania, with over $2 million in sales in the first 17 days since the game officially launched. Additionally, the PA Lotto has awarded $1.3 million in prizes.

Less than a month after it launched, Keno is already being hailed a hit in Pennsylvania,

The Pennsylvania Lottery rolled out its own version of the lottery-style gambling game found traditionally in casinos across the country on May 1. Now, Pennsylvania Lottery spokesman Gary Miller tells PennLive.com ticket sales have gone over $2 million in the first 17 days. Plus, all indications are sales will continue to grow.

Keno is now available at any one of 9,400 lottery retailers across the state. Additionally, it’s in 600 bar and restaurants around PA. Locations sell tickets and give players the chance to watch the drawings on large-screen monitors. Miller said that wing of Keno is steadily growing as bar and restaurant owners across the state realize what a draw the game can be.

The first 17 days of Keno

In the first 17 days, the game has been available, it appears the Pennsylvania Lottery aren’t the only ones profiting from it. More than $1.3 million in Keno prizes have been won already. Including $10,000 collected by one Lancaster County woman.

Wawa convenience store staff showed Irene Grant from Adamstown how to play Keno and she gave it a try. Hours later when she checked the results of the draw on the Pennsylvania Lottery website, she was notified a claim form was required to collect her prize. In fact, it turned out Grant won $10,000. A prize she collected at Pennsylvania Lottery headquarters last week.

Keno is a relatively easy game to play. Players choose numbers from 1 to 80. They can choose anywhere from one to ten numbers. PA’s central gaming system then draws 20 random numbers and a Keno Multiplier number of 2, 3, 4, 5, or 10.

Payouts are based on how many numbers selected by a player are among those drawn. Additionally, the amount wagered, and any multiplier, if selected, is a factor.

In Pennsylvania, the minimum bet is $1. Pennsylvania Lottery Keno draws go off every four minutes, seven days a week. Players can win up to $100,000 on each draw.

The Pennsylvania Lottery uses a central gaming system provided by Scientific Games to run the Keno games and put out a feed of the draws to monitor game locations across the state.

The Pennsylvania Lottery website’s Keno page also posts drawing results. Plus, an animated depiction of each draw is available on the Pennsylvania Lottery mobile app.

Virtual Sports and Keno

Virtual sports lottery games will launch later this year using the same system. According to the Pennsylvania Lottery website, Xpress Sports by the Pennsylvania Lottery will launch in the summer of 2018 featuring Inspired Entertainment’s Stock Car Racing and 1st Down Virtual Football.

Gov. Tom Wolf approved the launch of Pennsylvania Lottery monitor games, including Keno and virtual sports, in November 2017. The day after he signed a comprehensive gambling expansion bill into law. A bill that included approval for online lottery sales and online gambling.

It has yet to be determined if virtual sports can match Keno’s initial success. However, it should be easy to see if players are interested right away. Just as it was with Keno.

Pennsylvania Lottery Executive Director Drew Svitko said Keno sales got off to a strong start on just the first day.

He said the first ticket was sold prior to the 5:49 a.m. first drawing and kept on coming:

“We watched sales rise steadily through the morning, which shows that our players are excited to try this new game. By lunchtime, Keno was selling at a clip of about 8,200 tickets per hour and still rising.”

Churchill Downs Diving Headfirst Into PA And NJ Online Casino, Sports Betting

Churchill Downs is about to make a big splash in the legal and regulated online gambling and sports betting markets in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Churchill Downs is about to make a big splash in the legal and regulated online gambling and sports betting markets in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The Louisville, Kentucky racing and gaming giant, best known as owner and operator of The Kentucky Derby, announced its entry into the markets this week through a pair of partnership agreements.

First, Churchill Downs inked a strategic partnership agreement with SBTech to use SBTech’s integrated technology platform for both its online gambling and sports betting operations.

According to a press release from Churchill Downs, SBTech will provide the company with an online gaming and sports betting software platform. This includes a website, mobile apps, and back-office systems.

Churchill Downs says the partnership is initially intended to enable it to enter online gambling and sports betting markets in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Both states have already approved online gambling and sports betting.

Pennsylvania is in the middle of setting up the regulatory framework for both markets.

New Jersey has had legal and regulated online gambling since 2013. It is currently setting up regulations for its sports betting market. New Jersey is expected to be the first new state to accept legal sports bets. This following the US Supreme Court decision this week repealing a federal ban on sports betting.

Of course, Churchill Downs is already in the online gambling sphere. However, it’s TwinSpires.com online horse race wagering site will continue to run separately from its new SBTech sites.

Churchill Downs in PA

Churchill Downs announced in March it planned to purchase Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie with an eye on the burgeoning PA online gambling market. In fact, Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen said the reason it acquired Presque Isle was to get a foothold in Pennsylvania where online gambling legislation just passed.

Presque Isle Downs & Casino features:

  • 1,600 slots
  • 32 table games
  • A poker room
  • Thoroughbred racing on 100 dates annually

Currently, only the 13 PA casino license holders can apply for online gambling licenses in the state. Licenses are being made available in three categories including online slots, online table games, and online poker.

Churchill Downs and Golden Nugget Atlantic City

In New Jersey, Churchill Downs has also inked an agreement with Golden Nugget Atlantic City. It plans to enter into the NJ online gambling and sports betting markets under Golden Nugget’s license. Churchill Downs is awaiting new sports betting legislation and online gambling license approval in the state first. However, it is planning to launch both operations in the first quarter of 2019.

Carstanjen said Churchill Downs is eagerly anticipating entry into both NJ markets:

“We are looking forward to offering integrated iGaming and sports betting products in New Jersey. We have the unique opportunity to leverage our knowledge and experience operating the largest legal online horse racing wagering business in the U.S. as we enter the iGaming and sports betting markets.”

Online gambling has already been a huge success for Golden Nugget Atlantic City. It’s own online casino site has the largest selection of games in the market. Plus, the Betfair and PlaySugarHouse NJ online casino sites run under its license. Together, the Golden Nugget site are the runaway revenue leader in NJ online gambling. In fact, they are pulling in more than $7 million a month.

Golden Nugget’s Senior Vice President and General Manager of Online Gaming Thomas Winter welcomed Churchill Downs aboard:

“We welcome Churchill Downs, a respected US gaming operator with online wagering experience, to New Jersey. The addition of their offering will allow Golden Nugget Atlantic City to cater to an even larger demographic of New Jersey online players.”

More Skins Limitations In PA Could Prevent Online Gambling Growth

Skins continue to be a major sticking point in the current creation of regulations governing online gambling in Pennsylvania, with most experts agreeing any limits and limitations will hurt revenue.

Skins continue to be a major sticking point in the current creation of regulations governing online gambling in Pennsylvania.

Online gambling was approved as a part of a comprehensive gambling expansion package passed by the state in October 2017. Since that time, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has been creating regulations to govern online gambling operations in the state and fine-tuning its licensing process.

The first sets of regulations related to online casinos and online poker in PA did not address whether there would be a limit on the number of online gambling websites, otherwise known as skins, licensees can launch under a single license.

New Jersey limits the number of skins allowed under a single internet gambling licensee to five. Experts claim this has helped maximize revenue for both operators and the state. However, representatives from PA’s top-grossing Parx Casino, and Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, still asked gaming board officials to limit the number of skins in PA to as little as one.

This appeared to be an effort to prevent online gambling from eating away at existing land-based casino revenues. Even though most in the industry believe allowing multiple skins will be good for the casino industry as a whole, helping grow revenues online and off.

Addressing the skins issue

At the beginning of April, the PGCB’s Executive Director Kevin O’Toole finally updated its temporary regulations to address the skins issue.

According to O’Toole, there will be no limitations on the number of skins a licensee may employ. However, branding must make it clear which licensee each skin is operating under.

No other state where online gambling has launched has used this stipulation. Plus, even further, never-before-seen limitations are also being placed on PA online gambling licensees when it comes to skins.

One of these regulations will limit players to a single account per operating platform. Even if there are multiple skins operating on that platform.

It has not been determined how this regulation will be implemented. However, it appears players will only be able to create one account with each license holder in the state, and use it on all skins operating under that licensee.

Limitations on skins may equal limitations on revenue

This may not be an issue from a player perspective. However, industry analyst Steve Ruddock claims this and other regulations on skins will only hurt the local online gambling business.

Ruddock says much like high tax rates and a prohibition of online gambling at land-based casinos, how PA is handling the skins issue seems to be turning into a form of self-sabotage.

He claims that limits and limitations on skins only serve to:

  • Make PA a less desirable market for those interested in launching a skin
  • Prevent the industry from reaching its revenue potential
  • Lead to higher operating costs
  • Present fewer choices for consumers
  • Lead to less money spent on marketing
  • Prevent competition and innovation
  • Cost the state millions in licensing fees

On the other side of the coin, Ed Andrewes, head of Resorts Casino’s online operations in New Jersey, says New Jersey proves multiple skins are necessary to create a competitive marketplace. One that also provides an incentive for operators to spend money on marketing.

He also says operators who think limiting skins will save them money on marketing costs must understand that a less money spent on marketing only leads to less growth in the market as a whole.

PGCB is still in the process of defining online gambling regulations for the state. However, PA casinos started applying for online gambling licenses beginning April 16.

DFS Operators Up And Running In New Regulated Market

The first daily fantasy sports contests with state government oversight went off in Pennsylvania last weekend on popular sites including Fanduel and DraftKings.

The first daily fantasy sports contests with state government oversight went off in Pennsylvania last weekend.

Pennsylvanians may have been playing daily fantasy sports contests in gray market for the past few years. However, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) sent out a press release this week announcing government oversight of the contests began over the weekend.

Pennsylvania lawmakers made the games legal as a part of a major gaming expansion legislation package passed in October 2017. According to the board, the daily fantasy sports contests marked the first official roll-out of new forms of gaming made legal under the legislation.

Online casino, online poker, and online lottery sales were also made legal in the gaming expansion. The Pennsylvania Lottery plans to launch online lottery sales this month. However, with the regulatory and licensing process still ongoing, the state’s first online casino and online poker sites are not likely to launch until the fourth quarter of the year.

Legal fantasy sports launches

Fantasy sports contests involve participants competing against one another by drafting a team of pro athletes. Participants earn points based on the statistical performance of the actual players in real-life sporting events. Daily fantasy sports take place over a finite period of time. However, traditional fantasy sports are often conducted over an entire season. Contests are run like tournaments. The top point-earning teams winning the largest pieces of a prize pool made up of entry fees after the operator takes a cut.

Under the new gaming expansion laws, Pennsylvanians 18 years of age or older can now legally participate in fantasy sports contests. However, they can only do so with approved operators.

Gaming board executive director Kevin O’Toole said the following operators have been approved:

  • Fanduel
  • DraftKings
  • DRAFT
  • Fantasy Football Players Championship
  • Boom Fantasy
  • Fastpick
  • Sportshub

Fantasy sports: Now regulated and taxed

O’Toole said fantasy sports operators are paying taxes in PA. Plus, local players are enjoying the benefits that government oversight of the games can provide:

“This roll-out also marks the beginning for Pennsylvania to create new revenue through the taxation of entry fees from players registered in Pennsylvania to participate in fantasy sports contests. Pennsylvania residents that enter Fantasy Sports Contests can know that they are participating in a fair playing environment and assured that each licensed operator meets standards set out in the law and regulated by the Gaming Control Board.”

The tax on fantasy sports operators’ adjusted revenue is 15 percent. The state began charging it on Saturday, April 28. All taxes collected by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue from fantasy sports operators will go into the state’s General Fund.

O’Toole said local players who may have played fantasy sports contests in the past probably didn’t notice any change:

“Pennsylvanians who already participate in fantasy sports contests with any of these firms will see no difference in game play nor need to re-register. The Gaming Control Board urges, however, that players review the eligibility guidelines on the web sites of these fantasy sports contest operators prior to attempting to participate in play.”

More information regarding fantasy sports regulation in PA is available on the board’s website.

In addition to fantasy sports regulation in PA, the board oversees all aspects of the state’s casino industry.

There are 10 stand-alone and racetrack casinos in PA, along with the two smaller resort casinos. According to the board, these operations generate approximately $1.4 billion in tax revenue annually. The majority of the money goes to property tax reduction for PA homeowners.

Betting On Your Chances To Bet On The 76ers This Summer

The odds are in the favor of both the Philadelphia 76ers and the chances Pennsylvania will be able to offer legal sports wagering in 2018.

The Philadelphia 76ers may very well be on the road to winning an NBA Championship. Plus, by the time they get there, fans in the Keystone State could legally be able to bet on them doing it.

The team is led by a pair of young stars. Ben Simmons is a 6’10” Australian point guard who is a shoo-in for 2017-2018 NBA Rookie Of The Year honors. Joel Embiid is a boisterous 7’2″ second-year center from Cameroon with a personality as big as he is.

A host of veteran shooters also helped the 76ers close out the regular season as the hottest team in the NBA.

They won 16 straight to move up and grab the three seed in the NBA’s Eastern Conference Playoffs. In fact, a surprising 52-win season had online sportsbook Bovada giving them the fifth-best odds to win the NBA Finals to start the playoffs.

At 15:1, only the defending champion Golden State Warriors, the Western Conference’s top-seeded Houston Rockets, Lebron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Eastern Conference’s top-seeded Toronto Raptors had better odds than the 76ers to win it all.

Round 1 to the 76ers

Round 1 turned out to be a rather one-sided series for the 76ers. They blew through the Miami Heat in five games to push through to the NBA’s Eastern Conference Semifinals this week. Now, Bovada has them as an even bigger favorite to win the title.

In fact, the money line on the 76ers to win the NBA title has moved down to +850. Only the Golden State Warriors at +105 and the Houston Rockets at +160 are bigger favorites.

To put things in perspective, the 76ers were +15,000 to win the NBA championship at the start of the season. The 2016-17 NBA Champion Golden State Warriors were +100.

Moneylines and the changing odds of becoming NBA champions might not mean much to most Pennsylvanians today. However, things might change tomorrow, or at least by the time the 76ers reach their goal.

Legal sports betting in PA

A bill legalizing sports betting inside state lines passed as a part of the comprehensive gambling expansion package in October 2017. However, sports betting isn’t legal just yet. The new law requires some change take place at the federal level first.

The US Supreme Court could rule in favor of New Jersey in its case against the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). That would force the change.

PASPA essentially bans single-game wagering everywhere outside of Nevada. However, should the US Supreme Court rules in New Jersey’s favor, the act would be deemed unconstitutional. Ultimately, that would pave the way for legal sports betting in states including PA.

That decision could come any day now.

It might take some time for regulators and operators to get legal sports betting up and running in PA. But not too long.

PA ready to roll on the sports betting front

In fact, back in November, Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Deputy Director of Communications Richard McGarvey told Legal Sports Report it wasn’t the top priority. However, the state planned on being ready to go if and when federal law changes:

“It’s not something we can implement in Pennsylvania until something changes federally, but we can be ready to go when the law changes. We’ll make sure to get everything ready and understand the landscape. It’s certainly something on our plate. We know it’s something that can happen and any time that’s the case you make sure you’re ready for it.”

The state’s 12 Pennsylvania casinos will be the first invited to apply for sports betting licenses and open up sportsbooks. Philadelphia area casinos like SugarHouse, Harrah’s, and Parx will likely move fast to set things up and go after all the potential revenue legal sports betting promises.

The 2017-18 NBA Finals are scheduled to run Thursday, May 31 through Sunday, June 17. It’s a tight timeline. However, PASPA could fall within the next few days.

Pennsylvania regulators certainly want to get betting up and running as quickly as possible, but betting on this year’s NBA finals in Philadelphia may be a longshot. But, like the 76ers, the odds they will be in a similar boat in 2019 is a very safe bet.

Record-Setting March A Positive Sign For Land-Based PA Casinos

March was a huge month for Pennsylvania casinos with combined revenue across the state’s 12 gaming properties exceeded $300 million for the first time ever.

March was a huge month for Pennsylvania casinos. In fact, combined revenue across the state’s 12 gaming properties exceeded $300 million for the first time ever.

The record-breaking figures were released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Tuesday. They showed gross table games revenue were down slightly from $79,545,431 in March 2017 to $79,165,791 last month. However, combining the table game revenue numbers with earlier reported March slot machine revenue of $221,350,220 brought total gaming revenue up to $300,516,011. This represented a 3.8 percent increase over the $289,529,578 reported last March.

March has consistently been a big month for PA casinos. In fact, the previous monthly high for total gaming revenue of $296,718,018 was reported in March 2013.

Parx leads PA casinos once again

Parx Casino continued to set the pace. It posted $54,635,233 in total gaming revenue throughout the month to top all 12 Pennsylvania casinos. The Philadelphia-area casino’s numbers represented a 9.9 percent increase over the same month last year.

Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem held on to the number-two spot. This despite its total gaming revenue dipping 3.31 percent from $48,369,570 in March 2017 to $46,770,619 last month.

Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh saw the biggest monthly gains. It’s total gaming revenue jumped from $30,199,493 in March 2017 to $33,546,172 last month. The 11.08 percent increase helped Rivers Casino rise up to third place among PA’s 12 casinos in terms of total gaming revenue.

Valley Forge on the rise

The Philadelphia area’s Valley Forge Casino Resort continues to post gains. This after paying the state’s $1 million fee to drop requirements that limited casino customers to hotel guests, membership holders and patrons of other resort amenities in November of last year.

The casino resort saw total gaming revenues jump 10.54 percent from $10,471,788 in March 2017 to $11,575,606 last month.

The gaming control board also approved the sale of Valley Forge Casino Resort to Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming Corporation earlier this month. Boyd first announced plans to buy the property for $280.5 million last year.

Mount Airy Casino Resort in the Poconos Mountains region saw the biggest drop in terms of total gaming revenue compared to March last year. It’s total gaming revenue dropped 5.88 percent from $16,466,470 in March 2017 to $15,497,865 last month.

More than $128 million in taxes collected

The state continued to be the largest single beneficiary of gaming revenue increases. In fact, total tax revenue collected from table games and slots reached $128,261,552 in March 2018. This number includes $115,518,487 from an average of 25,815 slot machines. Plus, $12,743,065 from an average of 1,268 table games in operation statewide on a daily basis throughout the month.

According to PGCB, the majority of the tax revenue collected is used for property tax reduction for Pennsylvania homeowners.

All monthly PA casino revenue figures are posted on the board’s web site.

The Four Types Of Land-Based PA Casino Licenses Explained

There are four different types of casinos in Pennsylvania. Each category can have a limited number of slots and table games in addition to other amenities all based on type.

Pennsylvania first launched legal casino gambling in 2006 when the first legal slot machines opened up at racetrack and casino properties across the state.

Since then, 12 legal gambling operations opened their doors, and a 13th is currently under construction in Philadelphia.

The original authorization for slot operations came from Pennsylvania’s Racehorse Development and Gaming Act, which was signed into law on July 5, 2004. In fact, the act created the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) to oversee casino gambling in the state. Plus, it also created three categories of casino licenses governing gambling operations.

Category 1 licenses are for the state’s existing racetracks.

Category 2 licenses for stand-alone casino operations.

Category 3 licenses are for resort casinos.

In 2010, lawmakers amended the Act to allow for the operation of table games inside all three types of licensed facilities.

Plus, in 2017, the state passed a comprehensive gambling expansion package. It authorized the issue of online gambling licenses. Plus, this new set of laws created a fourth casino license category for satellite, or mini-casinos, across the state.

Here’s a look at the now four types of land-based PA casino licenses and exactly what each authorizes:

Category 1 – Racinos

Category 1 casino licenses were designed to help bolster the state’s struggling horse racing industry. The state’s existing racetracks were invited to apply for these Category 1 licenses and turn their horse racing facilities into a combination racetrack/casino known widely as a racino. The state planned to award no more than seven Category 1 licenses.

Each license permits the racetrack facility to host as many as 250 table games and 5,000 slot machines.

Six racetracks applied for Category 1 licenses and were approved. The list of currently operating Category 1 licensed Racinos in the state includes:

In order to apply for the license, existing racetracks were required to host live racing for at least two years prior. In order to keep it, live racing must occur at the property at least 100 days every year.

If a new racetrack property wants to apply for a Category 1 license, it must host live racing for a minimum of 150 days by its second year.

Category 2 – Stand-alone casinos

Category 2 licenses are for classic casino operations. There are currently five Category 2 licenses in the state. These are the four that are open:

The state granted a Category 2 license to Stadium Casino LLC. This entity is a partnership between Cordish Cos. and Parx Casino and racing owners Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment Inc. They are currently building a casino complex in South Philadelphia’s sports stadium district. The complex should open in 2020.

Category 2 license holders can operate the same 250 table games and 5,000 slot machines the state’s Category 1 license holders can. They can also offer major resort amenities, including restaurants, spas, and entertainment.

However, Category 2 licensees are not permitted to operate hotels directly connected to the casinos. Although, hotels may be built elsewhere on the property.

Category 2 licensees must build casinos in major cities or tourist areas. Additionally, they must be outside of a 30-mile radius of any Category 1 Racino.

Category 3 – Resort casinos

Category 3 licenses are for resort casino properties. The law authorizes the state to issue three of these licenses. So far, there are only two Category 3 casinos. These are:

Gaming options are restricted to 600 slot machines and 50 tables. However, these are the only gaming facilities that can have attached hotels.

Initially, casino players had to either be hotel guests or pay a fee to use the property’s amenities. However, as a part of the state’s 2017 gambling expansion, Category 3 licensees could pay a $1 million fee to remove the amenity fee provision.

Category 3 licensees can now also pay another $1 million to add an additional 15 table games and $2.5 million to add up to 250 slot machines.

Category 4 – Satellite Casinos

The comprehensive gambling expansion laws passed by PA legislators in October 2017 authorized the issue of up to 10 Category 4 satellite casino licenses

These mini-casinos can operate anywhere from 300 to 750 slot machines and up to 30 table games. Properties can add 10 more table games after the first year of year of operation.

Satellite casino sites cannot be within 25 miles of one of the state’s existing Category 1, 2, or 3 casino license holders. However, its these license holders that got the first chance to procure the licenses and build the casinos.

PGCB is now in round two of auctions for Category 4 licenses. The first round began in January 2018, resulting in four accepted bids:

  • Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association, LLC, operators of Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, bid $50,100,000 to build in the Borough of Yoe in York County.
  • Stadium Casino, LLC, the group in the middle of construction on a second Philadelphia casino, bid $40,100,005 to build in Derry Township in Westmoreland County.
  • Mount Airy #1, LLC, operator of the Mount Airy Casino Resort, bid $21,188,888.88 to build in the City of New Castle in Lawrence County.
  • Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment Inc., which operates Parx Casino, bid $8,111,000 to build in South Newton Township in Cumberland County.