PA Online Gambling Sites 2018

PA iLottery

Pennsylvania Lottery has launched their official PA iLottery website offering instant win games that are slot-style online games. This is currently the only online gaming site that has launched since the PA gaming expansion bill passed last year.

Casino companies offering online gambling

Here is a look at which casinos applied for online casinos, who their parters are, and when they plan to launch:

CasinoOnline partnersInteractive application status
Harrah's888Conditionally approved
Hollywood (Penn National)N/AConditionally approved
Mount Airy888 / PokerStarsConditionally approved
ParxGANConditionally approved
Sands BethlehemN/AConditionally approved
SugarHouseRush Street Interactive / KambiConditionally approved
Valley ForgeIGT / GANConditionally approved
Stadium Park Philly Live! CasinoN/AConditionally approved
Presque Isle DownsGolden NuggetConditionally approved
Mohegan Sun PoconoN/AConditionally approved
MGM Resortsbwin.partyApplication pending
Golden Nugget NJNYXApplication pending

And here is a look at the casinos that applied for online poker and where they are in the process:

CasinoExisting online partnersPotential or speculated partner Application status
Harrah's888N/AConditionally approved
Hollywood CasinoN/AIGTConditionally approved
Mount Airy888 / PokerStarsN/AConditionally approved
ParxGANN/AConditionally approved
Sands BethlehemN/AN/AConditionally approved
SugarHouse CasinoRush Street Interactive / KambiN/AConditionally approved
Valley ForgeIGT / GANpartypoker / GVCConditionally approved
MGM Resortsbwin.partypartypoker / GVCApplication pending

PA online sports betting

One form of online gambling that isn’t covered by the PA interactive gaming licenses is online sports betting.

A casino can offer online wagering as part of its $10 million sports betting license. Unlike online casino, the license is limited to a single skin that must prominently feature the name of the licensee.

There is no deadline for casinos to apply for the sports betting licenses, it is a rolling enrollment plan. Perhaps that explains why secen of the 13 casinos have applied for the license so far. Meanwhile, some casinos speak about getting into sports betting, but have not filed any paperwork.

The casinos which will offer sports betting are:

  • Harrah’s Philadelphia
  • Hollywood Casino at Penn National
  • Presque Isle Downs
  • Rivers Casino Pittsburgh
  • SugarHouse Casino
  • Valley Forge Casino

Before any of these casinos can accept an online bet, they must launch their retail sportsbooks on property. The first book at Hollywood Casino opened on Nov. 17. Pennsylvania really only got excited about sports betting when SugarHouse and Rivers opened their doors on Dec. 15.

The timeline for these casinos to get PGCB approval to accept online wagers looks to be in February or March of 2019, after each has had some time to operate their brick and mortar sportsbooks.

Many of these online sports betting offerings will eventually be tied to an online casino site. For example, Harrah’s will likely roll everything into its single Caesars Online Casino product. PlaySugarHouse offers a combination site in New Jersey already, so expect it to offer a shared account between casino and sports betting as well.

Finally, expect some big names aside from the casinos themselves to get involved. Valley Forge will be working with fantasy sports giant turned sportsbook operator FanDuel. William Hill helps operate Hollywood Casino’s sports betting product.

Potential PA online casinos

According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), there are 10 stand-alone and racetrack casinos and two smaller resort casinos operating inside the state. Plus, a 13th casino is coming, with a license having already been granted to a group building a casino and hotel in the South Philadelphia Sports Complex area, home of Philadelphia’s professional sports teams.

These PA casino operations could apply for online gambling operator licenses in the state beginning April 16, 2018. The properties had until July 16 to turn in applications for a $10 million comprehensive interactive gaming license. With this license, casinos can offer online poker, online slots, and online table games.

There were nine casinos which applied:

After applying, Rivers Casino eventually rescinded its application, electing to punt on online gambling. Stadium Casino did something similar, opting to forgo an online poker license.

Meanwhile, both Presque Isle Downs and Mohegan Sun Pocono applied for a la carte licenses. Presque Isle opted to skip poker. Mohegan, surprisingly signed up for all three at a cost of $2 million more than its competitors. However, like Rivers and  Stadium, it too abandoned its online poker plans.

That left 12 unclaimed interactive licenses. PGCB opened up a process for qualified gambling entities (QGE) from outside of Pennsylvania to claim them.

Only two groups applied. MGM Resorts is seeking all three categories of license. Golden Nugget Atlantic City wants table games and slots, but no online poker.

Now, should PGCB approve those two companies, the state will have two very big competitors contending with the land-based casinos in the Pennsylvania online casino market.

Potential PA online poker sites

Today, 10 of 12 Pennsylvania casinos have poker rooms. Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin and Valley Forge Casino Resort are the only casinos in the state that do not have poker rooms.

There are more than 220 live poker tables operating across the state with the 10 rooms pulling in an average of $4 million in revenue every month. Plans for Stadium Casino in the South Philadelphia Sports Complex area include opening a poker room when the facility opens its doors in 2020.

Currently, only seven plan to offer an online poker counterpart though. The casinos that will launch an online poker room in Pennsylvania are (MGM is applying as an out-of-state entity):

  • Harrah’s Philadelphia
  • Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course
  • Mount Airy Casino Resort
  • Parx Casino
  • Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem
  • SugarHouse Casino
  • Valley Forge Resort Casino
  • MGM Resorts (pending QGE approval)

More about PA’s legal online gambling industry

Online poker, online casino table games, and slots became legal in Pennsylvania as a part of a comprehensive gambling expansion package passed by state legislators in October 2017.

The PGCB is providing regulatory oversight for the local online gambling industry. Casinos could get all three types of interactive gaming licenses at once for a $10 million licensing fee. The cost was $4 million each individually for slots, table games, and peer-to-peer games like poker.

There is no limit on the number of skins, or alternatively branded online gambling operations, that can operate under each licensee. However, regulations designed by the board stipulate branding for the skins must clearly identify the licensee. Plus, players can only create one account per licensee, not per skin.

PA online gambling site safety

PGCB will regulate all online gaming sites in the state. This is the same branch of the state government that regulates all land-based PA casinos.

Through the first half of 2018, PGCB was designing regulations to govern online gambling operations in the state and refining the application and licensing process. Now that the launch of online gambling is on the horizon, PGCB is finalizing regulations and ensuring casinos are in complete compliance before launch.

Other important points regarding PA online gambling security

The regulations designed by PGCB will  include several security measures specifically designed to:

  • Ensure player balances are held in a separate account from operating funds
  • Force sites to implement a rigorous player verification process
  • Prevents minors from gaining access
  • Deal with problem gamblers
  • Force sites to implement geolocation software making sure all players are within the state
  • All deposits and withdrawals are processed securely

Online gambling in other states

Pennsylvania passed online gambling legislation in October 2018. Before them, just three states, Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey, had passed similar legislation. All three states saw legal and regulated online gambling markets open in in 2013.

New Jersey and Delaware both give players the chance to play various online casino games and online poker. It’s online poker only in Nevada.

New Jersey online gambling has been a great success. Online gambling sites in the Garden State set revenue records in 2016 pulling in $196.6 million. It helped the state’s fledgling casino industry turn around a decade of declines. Last year, New Jersey online gambling posted even bigger numbers, setting a new record for revenue at $245.6 million.

Nevada and Delaware

Nevada hosts just two online poker operators, WSOP.com and Real Gaming. Real Gaming is struggling to stay afloat and the while the market for WSOP.com grows when the World Series of Poker comes to Las Vegas in June and July, the rest of the year it remains rather small.

In Delaware, online gambling run by the Delaware State Lottery in partnership with 888 Holdings. The three licensed racinos in the state are Delaware Park, Dover Downs, and Harrington Raceway and Casino, all offer online casino games and poker. However, the online gambling market and the state are tiny.

That said, online poker in Delaware and Nevada got a boost when New Jersey signed on to an interstate agreement in October 2017 to share player pools between all three states. The first tri-state shared liquidity games launched May 1, 2018 and all three states immediately became part of the biggest regulated poker network in the US.

Pennsylvania’s new online gambling law

Pennsylvania became the fourth state to legalize online gambling when lawmakers passed a comprehensive gambling expansion package in October 2017. Gov. Tom Wolf signed the bill into law by immediately.

The new laws also regulate daily fantasy sports. They authorize the sale of online lottery tickets. Plus, they provide for the regulation of sports betting now that the Supreme Court ruled the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was unconstitutional.

Essentially, Pennsylvania law now allows for the state’s 13 existing casino licensees to acquire licenses to operate three forms of online gambling:

  • Poker
  • Slots
  • Table games

These ventures are each heavily taxed. Online slots are taxed at a rate of 54 percent. Table games and poker are at a much less steep rate of 16 percent.

Even sports betting features some of the highest taxes in the world for the industry at 34 percent.

Online casino games versus online poker

In New Jersey, the only online gambling market of a comparable size to what PA’s expects to be, online gambling has generated some big revenue numbers. However, online poker has only helped create about 10 percent of them.

Online slots are also generating about 70 percent of online casino revenues, meaning just 30 percent are coming from table games. Like most live casinos, online casinos in NJ offer more slots than anything else, which could be a factor.

Based on where the money is coming from in New Jersey, one should expect online gambling operations in Pennsylvania to follow suit. Therefore, they will be more focused on slots than anything else. Even if the tax rates on online slots are significantly higher.

Ongoing challenges facing PA online casino operators

It’s not easy to run an online gambling operation. PA online casino operators will face a number of ongoing challenges as they launch. In other states that have legalized and regulated online gambling these challenges and issues have included:

  • Geolocation software
  • Underage gambling
  • Fraud and duplicate accounts
  • Credit cards deposit denials
  • Word-of-mouth marketing and new player attraction
  • Keeping offshore operators at bay

Tight regulation

PA will need to implement tight regulations in order for online gambling to succeed. They’ll need to impose a minimum age requirement of 21 and force sites to enforce it. Sites must also ensure players are physically located in the state when playing. Geolocation software can prove tricky in this regard and needs to be continually tested and improved.

A tight security system is paramount. Plus, it must be one that works for the benefit of the casinos and players.

The sites have to verify age and identity. PIN numbers and other security measures must be required.

Penalties must be created for violators and they must be enforced rigorously.

Account funding

It might go without saying, but account funding shouldn’t be a hassle. In fact, if impatient gamblers run into issues making deposits and withdrawals they’ll give up before long. If the problems persist, the list of those gamblers will grow exponentially.

Payment processing problems still occur in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware, particularly when it comes to Credit Card transactions. Credit card companies and banks have appeared to be slow in accepting that legal online gambling is here. Regardless, PA needs to make an effort to change that and lower refusal rates.

Getting the word out

Online gambling sites need players. However, a lot of people in New Jersey are still unaware they can gamble online. If PA wants the kind of success they have in New Jersey, the industry will need to market itself. They’ve got to get the word out to more potential players. However, that means marketing and advertising is a must. Additionally, increased cross-promotions with land-based casinos can help.