New PGCB Applications Available, But No Word On Skin Limits

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced this week it will begin accepting applications for interactive gaming platforms on June 4.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced this week it will begin accepting applications for interactive gaming platforms on June 4. This Despite the fact the interactive gaming platform providers aren’t sure exactly what they will be applying for just yet.

Interactive gaming platform providers are not online casino operators. Instead, these are the companies that provide technology and software platforms for online casinos. Companies like Gamesys, GVC Holdings, NYX Gaming Group, and GAN have been providing software platforms for New Jersey online gaming sites since online gambling launched there in 2013.

Clearly, these tech companies will be applying for the right to provide software platforms for online casinos in Pennsylvania. It’s how many sites PA online casino license holders will be able to operate using these software platforms that are still in question.

PGCB approves online gaming regulations

The gaming board approved two sets of regulations related to PA online casinos and online poker last week. Missing was any language addressing whether or not there will be a limit on the number of online gambling websites licensees can launch. Multiple websites operating under a single license holder are referred to as skins.

New Jersey limits the number of skins allowed to operate under a single online gambling licensee to five. Experts say this has helped maximize both operator and state revenue from online gambling.

However, representatives from Parx Casino and Racing and Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course have told the board it wants it to limit the number of skins in PA to as little as one.

This appears to be a misguided effort to prevent the online gambling market in PA from cannibalizing the existing land-based casino industry. Misguided because most industry insiders agree that allowing multiple skins will be good for the entire industry and help revenue growth across the board.

Two PA lawmakers, Reps. Rosita Youngblood and Jason Ortitay, recently said legislators never had any intent on placing a limit on skins.

Skins question remains

PA casinos have been invited to apply for online gambling licenses beginning April 16. But with the licenses for online slots, table games, and poker costing $10 million for all three or $4 million separately, the casinos will want to know where the state officially stands on the issue of skins before applying.

The interactive gaming platform licenses come with a $1 million licensing fee attached. So, clearly online gambling software platform providers want an answer on skins sooner rather than later as well.

The board is planning to approve the third set of online gambling regulations at its next meeting on April 2. It is expected the skins issue will be addressed in these new regulations. Key players in the fledgling PA online gambling industry certainly hope so.

Gaming platform application a lengthy process

In the meantime, there’s time to pour over the extensive 59-page interactive gaming platform application. It’s currently available on the board’s website.

A document that size, and steps like fingerprinting and background checks to follow, suggest the process will be a long one.

The licensing process for online gambling operators will likely run into September. As a result, it initially appeared online gambling sites could launch in PA by the fourth quarter.

However, this June 4 deadline for interactive gaming platform licenses and the lengthy process to follow may change things. In fact, it may even push the state’s online gambling launch into 2019.

The Race To Get Online In Pennsylvania Starts April 16

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will start offering online gambling license applications to state casinos beginning April 16.

Pennsylvania casinos can apply for the state’s first online gambling licenses beginning April 16.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) announced Wednesday it will allow licensed Pennsylvania casinos to petition the board for Interactive Gaming Certificates for a period of 120 days beginning in Mid-April.

After obtaining the certificate, the casinos will be authorized to offer online gambling in three different categories. The categories include:

  • Peer-to-peer interactive games where players compete against other players, including online poker.
  • Non-peer-to-peer interactive games where players compete against dealers, including online blackjack and other table games.
  • Non-peer-to-peer interactive games which simulate slot machines online.

In the first 90 days, beginning April 16, existing Pennsylvania casinos can petition the board for an Interactive Gaming Certificates covering all three online gambling categories. These come with an authorization fee of $10 million.

From the 91st day until the 120-day licensing period is over, existing Pennsylvania casinos can petition the board for an Interactive Gaming Certificates covering one or more separate online gambling categories. The authorization fee for each is set at $4 million.

Qualified gaming entities next

Once the 120-day licensing period is over, other qualified gaming entities may apply for any remaining Interactive Gaming Certificates. However, each qualified gaming entity must be deemed suitable by the board first.

Pennsylvania law allows for the issuance of a total of 13 Interactive Gaming Certificates for each online gambling category. That makes for a total of 39 certificates.

The board’s Executive Director Kevin O’Toole addressed PA online gambling’s timeline during a recent House budget hearing. He said the board is in the process of crafting temporary regulations which will govern online gambling operations in the state.

The licensing process isn’t likely to conclude until September. Add that to the ongoing crafting of temporary regulations and it appears the first online gambling sites in the state won’t be up and running until the fourth quarter of 2018.

Who wants a PA online gambling license?

However, which existing PA casino operations are interested in offering online gambling in all three categories will be clear by July. Plus, it will be clear if existing casinos intend to snatch up all available licenses. Or, if outside entities will be allowed to enter the online gambling market in the state at all.

Most experts agree the state’s casinos are likely to apply for most, if not all, available licenses.

However, the state has yet to clarify whether it will limit the number of branded websites, or skins, online gambling operators can possess under each license.

A decision on the skins issue could have a significant impact on the number of casinos applying for licenses.

The board will meet again March 21 with the skins issue still unresolved.

Pennsylvania Takes First Small Step Towards Licensing Online Casinos

The regulatory and licensing process for online gambling in Pennsylvania begins April 2, but potential operators are still waiting for word regarding when they can apply for a license.

The regulatory and licensing process for online gambling in Pennsylvania is finally beginning.

However, potential operators are still waiting for word regarding when the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) will begin accepting applications for iGaming operator licenses.

This week, the board announced it will begin accepting license applications for manufacturers and suppliers to iGaming operators on April. Additionally, the board will start accepting applications from truck stop Video Gaming Terminal (VGTs) manufacturers and suppliers on the same day. Truck stops wanting to offer VGTs can start turning applications in on May 7.

The board also says the acceptance date for applications for iGaming operators or platform providers will be announced later.

Internet gambling in PA

The state passed new gaming expansion laws in October 2017 that legalized three categories of online gambling. These categories include:

  • Non-banking table games, like poker
  • Banking games which simulate casino table games
  • Games which simulate slot machines

PGCB is developing the regulations and licensing process for internet gaming. However, a frequently asked questions document on the board’s website claims it is still in the first phases of a roll-out of internet gaming. There is no specific date when internet gambling will launch yet..

In fact, this announcement regarding license applications from internet gambling manufacturers and suppliers is the first sign the regulatory and licensing process is moving forward.

The applications have been made available on the PGCB website at gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov.

The application is nearly 60 pages. Additionally, there are supporting documents some applicants must fill out. Manufacturers currently licensed by PGCB are able to submit an abbreviated application.

The new gambling expansion legislation clearly states Pennsylvania’s existing casinos will get the first crack at applying for iGaming operator licenses. There are 13 licenses available.

In fact, PA casinos will have 90 days following the acceptance date for applications to apply for a discounted license to operate all three categories of online gambling. The discounted price is $10 million. After the 90 days is up the price will increase to $4 million per license.

Entities from outside the local casino industry can apply for any licenses that are available after the existing PA casinos get their shot.

Online gambling tax

In addition to the upfront licensing fees, the state is in line to collect a percentage of online gambling revenue once the market gets up and running.

The law specifies the following taxes on internet gambling operators and distribution of those funds:

  • 14 percent of internet table game revenues will go to the Pennsylvania General Fund.
  • 34 percent of internet slot machine revenues will go the Property Tax Relief Fund.
  • 13 percent of internet slot machine revenues will go the to the Commonwealth Finance Agency for county grants.
  • 5 percent of internet slot machine revenues will go to counties that see a decrease in local share assessment funds.
  • A local share tax of 1 percent of all internet gambling revenue will go to the license holder’s host county.
  • 1 percent of all internet gambling revenue will go the Commonwealth Finance Agency for county grants.