Mount Airy And Mohegan Bring PA Sportsbook Licensee Tally To Nine

There are only four PA casinos not pursuing sports betting now that both Mount Airy and MOhegan Sun Pocono have started the application process.

The frozen sportsbook tundra that was northeast Pennsylvania may have a thaw in sight.

This past week, news broke that that Mohegan Sun Pocono submitted petitions to provide legalized sports betting via a land-based sportsbook. Also, as the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) confirmed, Mount Airy also submitted a petition.

A look at Mohegan Sun’s petition

Downs Racing, who owns Mohegan Sun, filed their petition on Mar. 27, according to a copy of the petition that PAOnlineCasino obtained. The petition reads:

“Downs Racing is seeking a certificate to offer all types of sports wagering permitted by Pennsylvania law and intends to offer a combination of land-based, mobile, and interactive sports wagering.”

It goes on to say that Downs Racing expects that launching a sportsbook will provide further benefit to the Commonwealth. The group also noted that it paid around $123 million in taxes to the state for its 2016-2017 fiscal year.

“Downs Racing has also made sizeable donations to local agencies, charitable efforts and community-based organizations,” the petition says.

As for the types of sports betting the casino will offer, its petition says they want to provide wagering across all permitted platforms. This would include PA online sports betting.

A look at Mount Airy’s petition

The copy of Mount Airy’s petition PA Online Casino obtained contains a note that the casino filed the petition on Mar. 29.

“It is anticipated that the addition of sports wagering will enhance the Mt. Airy facility, increasing its competitiveness in the regional gaming market by providing a significant amenity for gaming patrons,” the petition noted. “If sports wagering is authorized at the Mt. Airy facility, significant economic benefits will be realized by the Commonwealth and Commonwealth residents”

According to the petition, the casino plans to offer land-based, online, and interactive sports wagering. With these platforms, the casino notes that it should take around 36 months to reach its mature projected tax revenue.

The petition goes on to say that the casino’s immediate plans are to provide sports wagering via kiosks on the gaming floor.

Schematics indicating exactly where these kiosks go were not available via the petition we studied.

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Online betting expected this summer

At the beginning of the year, all seemed positive for Pennsylvania casinos who wanted to launch sportsbooks. However, the Department of Justice ruled in February that online gambling fell under the jurisdiction of the Wire Act.

This somewhat surprising decision created problems for sportsbook operators who planned on using existing servers in New Jersey, for example. Now, Pennsylvania sports betting data through those servers is not an option. As a result, the properties need to quickly execute a contingency plan.

The Wire Act forbids this because it forbids moving money and information across state lines. Moreover, the new opinion also has to potential to redefine what constitutes an out-of-state transaction in a much narrower manner.

As a result, the PGCB’s executive director Kevin O’Toole revealed during a budget hearing in Harrisburg in March that the projected launch date for online gambling — sports betting included — would be postponed until the summer, although some experts predict at least on book goes online later this month.

PGCB Clears Big Hurdles For Mohegan Sun, PA Sportsbooks

Sportsbooks at Parx, SugarHouse, and Rivers, and Mohegan Sun’s online gambling operation moved another step closer to opening this week, thanks to the PGCB.

A trio of Pennsylvania sportsbooks and one PA online casino operation moved another step closer to opening after the Nov. 28 meeting of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).

Firstly, the PGCB gave conditional approval of sports wagering operator licenses for Rush Street Interactive and Sports Information Services, Limited, otherwise known as Kambi.

Rush Street Interactive is the online arm of Rush Street Gaming.  Rush Street Gaming owns both SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia and Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh. Kambi is a sports betting company working with SugarHouse, Rivers and Parx Casino as each prepares to launch sportsbook operations, both at the casinos and online.

Three more PA sportsbooks ready to go

As a result of the PGCB approving sports wagering operator licenses for both companies, these three Pennsylvania casinos are now on the verge of launching PA sports betting operations.

All that’s left is PGCB testing and the final paperwork on gaming licenses.

Parx Casino was actually the second PA casino property to apply for a sports betting license. It is a looking to launch in December. Parent company Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment are also looking to launch sports betting operations at its South Philadelphia Turf Club off-track betting parlor. However, the PGCB has decided that it will have to wait until the Parx operation passes testing and goes live.

SugarHouse and Rivers previously targeted Dec. 1 for the opening of temporary sportsbooks on the properties. Even with the approvals, the casinos are reporting that date is not going to happen, but hope to launch imminently.

The Sportsbook at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course opened Nov. 17 after going through testing and its final paperwork in a matter of days.

Following the PGCB’s approval, Kambi’s Chief Commercial Officer Max Meltzer said the company’s future in PA looks bright:

“We’re delighted to have received our transactional waiver from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board today, which puts us one step closer to launching the Kambi Sportsbook with our partners in the state. I’m confident the players of Pennsylvania will enjoy what Kambi has to offer both on-property and online, particularly through the lens of our fantastic customers, who’ll have the ability to leverage our empowerment tools to differentiate, innovate and create exciting sports betting experiences.”

PGCB approves Mohegan Sun Pocono online gambling

In the meantime, the PGCB also approved Mohegan Sun Pocono’s application for online slots and online table games licenses.

The Wilkes-Barre, PA, casino originally applied for a license to operate online poker as well. However, the PGCB allowed it to pull that application this week, giving the casino a $4 million rebate on its licensing fee.

Mohegan Sun has kept quiet about who its online gambling software partner will be. So far, it has only said it is a well known public company in Europe that has filed for similar licenses in New Jersey.

Kindred Group, the owner of the Unibet brand, is really the only company that fits that description. It is quoted on the Swedish stock exchange. Plus, Kindred is Hard Rock Atlantic City‘s online gambling software partner in New Jersey.

It’s worth noting that Kambi is actually a Kindred spinoff. Plus, it renewed a long-term contract to provide sports betting services to Kindred in May 2018.

Hollywood gaming license renewed

Finally, the PGCB voted unanimously to renew Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course‘s gaming license. The PGCB renewed the Grantville casino and racetrack’s license for an for an additional five years.

The PGCB noted it has generated $2.7 billion in gross gaming revenue since its November 2006 opening. Plus, it has also generated $1.4 billion in gaming tax revenue for the state.

Former Mohegan Sun Exec Busted for Second Casino Scam

Robert Pellegrino is still in prison for his nearly $500,000 player loyalty scam, but the former Mohegan Sun executive is in hot water for another con job at the Pennsylvania casino.

One scam just wasn’t enough for former Mohegan Sun VP of Player Development Robert Pelligrini.

Already in jail for a scam involving loyalty club cards, a cocktail waitress, and a point man named Mark Heltzel, Pelligrini was arraigned for his alleged role in a 2014 Easter scam at Mohegan Sun Pocono. He allegedly rigged a contest with a $10,000 prize.

According to Wilkes-Barre newspaper the Times Leader, the casino ran an Easter promo in which patrons could pick an egg from among many other eggs and win prizes like free slots credits or money.

Pelligrini allegedly worked with two other men to make sure that Heltzel picked the $10,000 egg. He supposedly gave Pelligrini a small cut of the winnings.

Egg antics preceded loyalty card racket

According to the Times-Leader, the Easter 2014 scam was, allegedly, the first fraudulent move by Pelligrini.

The loyalty-card ruse was the second. According to multiple sources, it netted the disgraced exec and his partner, Heltzel, more than $420,000 in laundered money.

Basically, the pair worked with a cocktail waitress to get the PIN numbers of various patron’s loyalty cards. They then used those PIN numbers to transfer more than $470,000 to duplicate cards.

The cocktail waitress, Rochelle Poszeluznyj, was the one who captured the PIN numbers, according to a 2016 article from WNEP.

“When gamblers paid for their drinks with their casino card, Rochelle Poszeluznyj would copy their information and give it to a second casino employee — Robert Pellegrini.

Police say Pellegrini would then create duplicate players cards, add nonexistent money to them, and then give them to a third accomplice.”

Heltzel then used those cards to gamble. To his credit, he won himself and his two partners more than $420,000 in winnings.

The casino eventually figured out what was happening — Pelligrini and his accomplices stole nearly half a million dollars.

The court agreed, slapping Pelligrini with a 32-month prison sentence for conspiracy to commit money laundering. Heltzel received an 18-month sentence for the same crime and Poszeluznyj took a plea deal and was placed on two years of probation, the first six months of which was served on house arrest.

Scam is second to make headlines in the past two months

In March, Valley Forge faced its own inside-job scam.

A dealer and his friend devised a plan in which the friend would sit down at the dealer’s table. The friend would then pass fake bills to the dealer, who would then convert that cash into chips, full-well knowing that the money was no good.

The duo ran the gag twice before casino security unraveled the pair’s secrecy and they were arrested in November 2017.

Allegedly, the friend passed $4,000 in counterfeit bills to his partner.

At the time of publishing, neither of the two men had gone to trial.

Gambler In Mohegan Sun Loyalty Card Scam Sentenced To 18 Months In Prison

The gambler in a loyalty club scheme that defrauded Mohegan Sun Pocono casino in PA out of more than $420k was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. 

The gambler in an intricate loyalty club scheme that ultimately defrauded Mohegan Sun Pocono out of more than $420,000 has been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. 

Dallas, PA resident Mark Heltzel, 52, was also ordered to pay back the $420,147 he won from May 2014 to April 2015 using credits loaded onto various loyalty club membership cards by a former Mohegan Sun Pocono executive as a part of the scam. 

Heltzel pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. He was sentenced by US District Judge A. Richard Caputo last week. 

According to court documents, Heltzel conspired with Mohegan Sun Pocono vice president for player development Robert Pellegrini, 51, and Mohegan Sun Pocono cocktail waitress Rochelle Poszeluznyj, 39, to run the lucrative scam. 

The loyalty club scheme

Poszeluznyj would record the names and player loyalty club personal identification numbers of players while she served them drinks. She would then pass the information on to Pellegrini, who would use it to print duplicate player club cards and load them up with free play credits.

Pellegrini would pass the cards on to Heltzel. As the gambler, Heltzel’s role was to gamble with the free play credits at slots and video poker machines. The group would then split up any winnings. 

Heltzel reportedly turned $478,000 in free play credits into $420,147 in profits over an 11-month period. 

Pellegrini was determined to be the ring leader by Judge Caputo. He also plead guilty on charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Pellegrini was sentenced to 32 months in prison this past June. After pleading guilty on similar charges, Poszeluznyj is expected to be sentenced later this month. 

Pellegrini claimed a gambling addiction him down a path to the scam. He reportedly lost $30,000 a day at competing local PA casinos.

Pellegrini resolved a dispute between Heltzel and casino staff by offering him $10,000 in free play in $1,000 weekly increments. After that, Heltzel befriended Pellegrini and became a regular at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Heltzel told the court he “succumbed to temptation” when Pellegrini later offered him a role in the scam. 

Gambler suffers lapse in judgement

Heltzel’s lawyer Demetrius Fannick claimed Heltzel’s role as gambler in the scam represented a lapse in judgment and was out of character for him. He also said Heltzel’s casual gambling and drinking had snowballed out of control, leading him here. 

In a plea for leniency, Heltzel claimed his role in the scam led to him hitting rock bottom. He has been undergoing counseling for alcohol and gambling addictions ever since. 

IRS investigation uncovers all

The scam went undetected for so long because it was part of Pellegrini’s job to provide free play credits to high rollers. Evidence of the scam was eventually uncovered by an Internal Revenue Service investigation. The investigation also involved the Pennsylvania State Police. 

Mohegan Sun Pocono was Pennsylvania’s first slot machine facility. The property sits on the outskirts of Wilkes-Barre, PA. It features a harness track alongside more than 2,300 slots and live table games. 

Casino operations at Mohegan Sun Pocono first opened in November 2006. The state authorized slot machines at racetracks and casino locations across Pennsylvania in 2004.

Former Mohegan Sun Pocono VP Sentenced To 32 Months In Loyalty Club Scam

A former Pennsylvania casino executive charged with bilking the Mohegan Sun Pocono Casino out of almost $500,000 has been sentenced to 32 months in prison.

A former Pennsylvania gaming executive charged with bilking the Mohegan Sun Pocono out of almost half a million dollars has been sentenced to serve 32 months in prison.

Mountain Top, PA resident Robert Pellegrini, 51, plead guilty on charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering in December 2016.

On June 16, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced Wilkes-Barre federal court Senior Judge A. Richard Caputo had sentenced Pellegrini to serve 32 months in prison for his role in the money laundering scheme.

Pellegrini was Mohegan Sun Pocono’s vice president for player development.

Duplicate player club cards loaded with free play credits

According to the indictment in the case, Pellegrini conspired with a Mohegan Sun Pocono cocktail waitress and a local gambler to run the scam. Kingston, PA resident and Mohegan Sun Pocono cocktail waitress Rochelle Poszeluznyj, 39, would record the names and player loyalty club personal identification numbers of players while she served them drinks.

Pellegrini would then use the information to create duplicate player club cards and load them up with free play credits. Pellegrini then gave the cards to Dallas, PA gambler Mark Heltzel, 52, for the purpose of gambling. Heltzel played with the free play credits at slots and video poker machines and the group split up the winnings.

A more-than $420,000 scheme against the PA casino

According to the US attorney’s office, the trio ran the scheme from May 2014 until April 2015. The winnings amounted to a grand total of $422,147.55.

Poszeluznyj and Heltzel also plead guilty on similar charges and are still awaiting sentencing. Pellegrini was also sentenced to one year probation following his release from prison. In addition, he was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $420,147 to Mohegan Sun Pocono.

Gambling addiction blamed

In a plea for leniency, Pellegrini told the judge he ran the scheme to support a gambling addiction.

“I’m a flawed man,” he said. “I’ve made mistakes in my life, this being the biggest. I didn’t steal to pay my bills. It was to support my gambling.”

Pellegrini claimed he regularly lost up to $30,000 gambling at casinos on his days off. He also admitted to attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings and told the judge the majority of his fellow casino employees also spend their days off at other casinos.

No red flags raised

Part of Pellegrini’s job was providing free play to high rollers. As a result, the activity under the scheme raised no red flags for his employers. Even after it reached as high as $478,000 in free play credits.

The trio were eventually caught by an Internal Revenue Service investigation that also involved the Pennsylvania State Police.
Mohegan Sun Pocono is a racino on the outskirts of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The property features a harness track, more than 2,300 slots, and live table games including blackjack, roulette and poker.

Mohegan Sun Pocono was actually Pennsylvania’s first slot machine facility.
It opened in November 2006 after the state authorized slot machines at racetracks and other new casino locations across Pennsylvania in 2004.

Eastern PA Poker Rooms: Breaking Down Sands, Mohegan Sun, Hollywood And Mount Airy

A comparison of the four poker rooms in Eastern PA (not in Philly): Mohegan Sun Pocono, Sands Bethlehem, Mount Airy and Hollywood Casino at Penn National.

Ten of Pennsylvania’s 12 casinos house poker rooms, but the sizes and offerings vary quite a bit.

We’ll take a look at the four poker rooms in the eastern part of the state: Mohegan Sun, Mount Airy, Sands, and Hollywood Casino.

Mohegan Sun Pocono poker

The Mohegan Sun Pocono poker room in Wilkes-Barre has 18 cash-game tables, which is a decent amount for the region.

On most days, Mohegan Sun offers two daily tournaments — one at 11 a.m. and one at 7 p.m. — to go along with the Sit & Go tournaments offered in the poker room. On the promotional front, Mohegan Sun has an ongoing high-hand jackpot promotion that pays out three times daily.

Stakes and games typically available at Mohegan Sun Pocono are:

  • $1/$2 no limit hold’em
  • $1/$3 no limit hold’em with no-max buy-in
  • $2/$5 no limit hold’em
  • $10/$20 H.O.S.E. (A $10/$20 HOSE game with a full kill is available on Thursdays)
  • $4/$8 Omaha 8 or better with a kill
  • $2/$4 limit hold’em
  • $1-$5 seven card stud
  • State-approved games available upon request

Mount Airy poker

Mount Airy Casino in Mt. Pocono offers a small assortment of low-limit poker tables. The nine-table poker room is located a bit off the beaten path (on the third floor of the casino) and caters mainly to low-stakes locals and visitors. In fact, there’s not more than a blurb about poker on the casino’s website.

The casino doesn’t run daily tournaments on the regular, nor does it offer any special promotions beyond some jackpot-type promotions.

Stakes and games typically available at Mount Airy are:

  • $2/$4 limit hold’em
  • $3/$6 limit hold’em
  • $1/$2 no limit hold’em
  • $2/$5 no limit hold’em
  • State-approved games available upon request

Sands Bethlehem poker

Sands Bethlehem is the king of poker in the northeast region of the state and one of the larger poker rooms in any region.

The poker room is centrally located in the casino and boasts 30 cash-game tables. The tournament schedule is bit sparse considering the size of the room, as on average you’ll only find five daily tournaments throughout the week.

Sands offers a nice assortment of promotions, including a bad-beat jackpot and high hand bonuses at select times, but the big draw at its poker room are the amenities. From the complimentary beverages to massage services, Sands offers a lot of the luxuries one would only expect to find in a Las Vegas Strip casino. The poker room is close to 24-hour eateries within the casino and also offers tableside dining from 8 a.m. to midnight.

Check out what games are currently running at the casino and the size of the jackpot on Sands’ website.

Stakes and games typically available at Sands Bethlehem are:

  • $1/$2 no limit hold’em
  • $2/$5 no limit hold’em
  • $5/$5 no limit hold’em
  • $5/$10 no limit hold’em
  • $10/$25 no limit hold’em
  • $3/$6 limit hold’em
  • $5/$10 Omaha 8 or better
  • $1/$3 pot-limit Omaha
  • State-approved games available upon request

Hollywood Casino

Located at the iconic Penn National Racecourse in Grantville, Hollywood Casino’s poker room has 16 tables, and like Mount Airy, mainly caters to low-limit players.

Hollywood Casino at Penn National offers one of the best tournament selections in the area, with one to two tournaments most days.

Hollywood Casino offers a bad-beat jackpot (see how large it is on the casino’s website), as well as a high-hand promotion at select times. Other perks of playing at Hollywood Casino include call-ahead seating and weekend massage rates of $1/minute.

Stakes and games typically found at Hollywood Casino at Penn National are:

  • $1/$2 no limit hold’em
  • $2/$5 no limit hold’em
  • $2/$4 limit hold’em
  • $1/$2 pot-limit Omaha 8 or better
  • State-approved games available upon request