Presque Isle One Step Closer To Western PA’s Newest Sportsbook

Churchill Downs’ Erie casino Presque Isle Downs is one step closer to opening up its retail sportsbook and online betting brand BetAmerica in PA.

The excitement and economic impact of PA sports betting will soon extend into another corner of the Keystone State.

During a Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) meeting last week, Presque Isle Downs received conditional approval from the PGCB to move forward with plans to open up a sportsbook inside its Erie casino.

Sportsbook launch date still uncertain

Although the sportsbook’s opening date has yet to be determined, Presque Isle Downs revealed other essential elements of its sportsbook plans. The Churchill Downs-owned casino will feature 1,275 square feet of sportsbook space with 50 self-service sports betting kiosks and 50 large HD televisions.

Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs, spoke about the plans in a statement:

“Presque Isle will give us a foothold in Pennsylvania and the opportunity to participate in the sports betting and online gaming market throughout the state. This acquisition is projected to be immediately accretive to our shareholders. We are excited about welcoming Presque Isle and its employees to the Churchill family.”

Sportsbook will open as BetAmerica

The Presque Isle sportsbook will carry the BetAmerica brand name. The brand is already used in certain parts of the country as a horse race betting app.

Before the Erie location opens permanently, the sportsbook must satisfy the final conditions of the PGCB. After that, it must successfully navigate a two-day “soft-open” period that will be closely monitored by the gaming board. Following that, the sportsbook will be fully functional. Mobile sports betting should follow in the spring.

Presque Isle’s sportsbook continues PA sports betting

Presque Isle’s sportsbook will be the seventh in the state and provide another attraction in the state’s western region.

The PGCB also confirmed that the Valley Forge Turf Club has submitted paperwork to offer sports betting at its off-track betting parlor in the near future. Furthermore, Valley Forge Casino, which has partnered with FanDuel Sportsbook, has targeted a March opening for a sportsbook of its own.

PA sportsbooks could see record revenues in March

According to statistics released last year by the American Gaming Association, US citizens wager an estimated $10 billion annually on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, which tips off every year in March.

With easier access to sports betting nationwide – and especially in Pennsylvania – that number will likely grow even bigger this year. Pennsylvania’s newly-minted sportsbooks could see record revenues and unprecedented levels of activity during that month.

And Presque Isle’s sportsbook could be right in the middle of it.

Lucky Seven: Presque Isle Downs Applies For Sports Betting

Presque Isle Downs applying for sports betting means more casinos in PA will offer sports betting than won’t.

The mystery surrounding sports betting plans for Presque Isle Downs & Casino is solved.

PlayPennsylvania confirmed last week that the Erie-based racetrack and casino submitted its application for a $10 million license to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) on Dec. 7.

Presque Isle Downs is the seventh PA casino to apply for a sports betting license.

So far, three casinos have launched temporary retail sportsbooks. Hollywood opened on Nov. 17SugarHouse and Rivers followed on Dec. 15. Parx and Harrah’s have been approved to offer sports betting. Both expect to open their respective retail operations during the first quarter of 2019. Valley Forge Casino was approved for its sports betting license at the Dec. 19 PGCB meeting. The board is scheduled to meet again Jan. 9.

Churchill Downs taking over   

There was never a question if Presque Isle Downs would offer sports betting. It was more a matter of when will it happen. Churchill Downs Inc. announced back in March it was purchasing the property from Eldorado Resorts. This will be the Kentucky-based company’s first, and currently only casino within Pennsylvania state lines.  

Churchill Hill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen addressed the pending sale and sports betting plans during the company’s third-quarter earnings call last month. He said the sale should close “early in or at least mid-first quarter 2019.”

As far as the sports betting plans go, Carstanjen spoke briefly about the retail and online plans:

‘We are also very interested in sports wagering and will file for that license when we have clarity on our transaction closing date. It is worth noting that a sports wagering license would allow a brick-and-mortar sportsbook at Presque Isle Downs as well as an online offering available throughout the state.”

Sports betting partners SBTech
and Golden Nugget

Churchill working with the Nugget in NJ

Churchill Downs, Golden Nuggetand SBTech are building a partnership in the New Jersey and Pennsylvania markets. In New Jersey, the three companies are working together on the Golden Nugget Atlantic City online sportsbook. There is no launch date yet. 

SBTech and BetAmerica working together in PA

SBTech, the award-winning, European-based platform provider,  will be using its BetAmerica brand to operate the Presque Isle Downs site.

Churchill Downs made its Pennsylvania sports betting intentions clear back in May when it reached a long-term strategic agreement with SBTech to partner up. The deal was brokered the same week that the Supreme Court ruled the Professional Amateur Sports Protection Act unconstitutional.

SBTech CEO Richard Carter shared his thoughts in a May press release:

“We are thrilled to have Churchill Downs as our first US partner. Churchill is not only an iconic brand with the largest online horse race wagering business in the US, but it is also one of the fastest-growing gaming operators in the nation. The combination of Churchill’s leading presence in the US market, coupled with SBTech’s deep expertise in regulated sports betting markets globally, makes for an ideal partnership as we enter this monumental chapter in the US gaming industry.”

Carstanjen commented on the partnership in the same release, too:

“We are very excited to partner with SBTech, which we believe provides us with the industry leading platform to offer exciting, innovative integrated iGaming and sports betting products. We have the unique opportunity to leverage our knowledge and experience as this market emerges, and look forward to working with a global technology leader in this space as we expand our operations across the US.”

The game of sports betting connecting the dots continued into July when SBTech announced a separate agreement to supply “cutting-edge omnichannel solutions” to Golden Nugget casinos based in Biloxi and Atlantic City. 

Once approved for a license, it’ll be off to the races at Presque Isle Downs. Except this race will not involve the ponies.   

Churchill Downs Moving Full Speed Ahead Into PA After Finalizing License

The state approved Churchill Downs’ purchase of Presque Isle Downs & Casino this week, and the company immediately applied for an online gambling license.

Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie is now a Churchill Downs property, and the company is taking it online.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved a change of control of the casino’s slot machine license this week. Churchill Downs will pay a change of control fee of $3.75 million to finalize the deal.

The Louisville, Kentucky-based horse racing industry giant now owns and operates numerous racetracks and casinos in at least eight states.

The Churchill-Eldorado deal

Earlier this month, it announced it had completed a deal to acquire Presque Isle Downs & Casino and take over the management of Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin in Farmington from Eldorado Resorts.

It originally planned to purchase Presque Isle Downs & Casino and the Lady Luck Vicksburg hotel and casino in Mississippi from Eldorado. However, the $51 million sale of the Mississippi casino was canceled in July 2018 after antitrust concerns were raised.

Churchill and Eldorado reworked the deal so that Churchill’s $179 million purchase of Presque Isle Downs & Casino will go ahead. However, it will now pay Eldorado a $5 million termination fee and take over operations of Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin instead, at a cost of $100,000.

When details of the original transaction were made public in February, Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen said PA passing online gambling legislation was a major reason why:

“Presque Isle will give us a foothold in Pennsylvania which has recently passed legislation authorizing real money online gaming.”

Presque Isle Downs online casino

A clear picture of Churchill Downs’ PA online gambling plans also emerged this week when the company applied for online slots and online table games licenses at a cost of $4 million each.

Apparently, Churchill Downs will not be pursuing online poker under the Presque Isle Downs & Casino banner. However, an online casino is on its way.

Its plans for a Presque Isle Downs & Casino retail or mobile sportsbook are not so clear.

In fact, at the meeting approving its operator change, Churchill Downs representatives said its PA sports betting plan is still up in the air:

“We’re very interested, but have some concerns.”

Churchill Downs and SBTech

In May, Churchill Downs announced it had entered into a strategic partnership with sports betting and iGaming platform supplier SBTech. The partnership will ultimately see SBTech provide its integrated technology platform for sports betting and iGaming solutions to Churchill Downs across the United States.

In fact, SBTech said it will provide Churchill with both its sports betting platform and Chameleon360 iGaming platform. Whether that complete product will roll out in Pennsylvania under the Presque Isle Downs & Casino banner remains to be seen.

Already taking bets online

In the meantime, Churchill Downs is already taking bets online in Pennsylvania. Churchill Downs’ TwinSpires online horse race wagering service has been in operation since 2007. It takes online bets on almost every horse race available in more than 30 states, including Pennsylvania.

The casino at Presque Isle Downs & Casino features 1,500 slot machines and a little more than 30 table games.

In 2017, Presque Isle Downs & Casino posted $111,164,968 in slot machine revenue, putting it 10th among the state’s 12 casinos. Additionally, its $14,470,503 in table games revenue made it 11th of 12 PA casinos in that category.

Valley Forge Casino In PA Fined For Allowing Self-Excluded Patron To Gamble

A Pennsylvania casino has been issued a fine after reportedly violating the procedures for handling a player on the state’s self-excluded gambler’s list.

A Pennsylvania casino has been given a stiff fine after reportedly violating the procedures for handling a player on the state’s self-excluded gambler’s list.

According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, Valley Forge Casino Resort was fined $10,000 for a violation of the procedures for handling a self-excluded individual. Apparently, casino personnel issued a casino access card to an individual who was on the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s Self-Excluded Persons List.

That individual then went on to play both slot machines and table games on the Valley Forge casino floor.

PA’s Self-Excluded Persons List

Violations related to the state’s Self-Excluded Persons List are considered very serious. This is partly because it remains one of the only measures in place to combat problem gambling.

Other efforts to fight problem gambling in the state include running the Council on Compulsive Gambling of PA Helpline.

Essentially, the self-exclusion process allows individuals to ask to be excluded from all legalized gaming activities in the state. Individuals on the list will then be prohibited from collecting any winnings, recovering any losses, or accepting complimentary gifts, services, or anything of value from licensed facilities in the state.

Individuals can place themselves on the list for anywhere from one to five years, or for life. At that point, licensed gambling facilities must refuse wagers from all self-excluded individuals. Licensed facilities must also take self-excluded individuals off all mailing and telemarketing lists.

Any individual on the list that turns up on a gaming floor is subject to arrest for trespassing. Should that individual win any money, those funds will be sent to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to support its compulsive and problem gambling programs.

The state also operates an Involuntary Exclusion List. However, this differs in that it consists of career criminals and cheats.

Valley Forge Casino Resort

Valley Forge Casino Resort is located in Upper Merion Township just outside the city of Philadelphia. The casino and resort sit on the site of the Valley Forge Convention Center. It opened in 2012 and features 600 slots and 50 table games.

Valley Forge Casino Resort’s Category 3 gaming license requires that gamblers spend at least $10 at the resort or purchase a membership.

Presque Isle blackjack violations

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board fined the Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie $10,000 for table games procedural violations. The fine was related to multiple procedural violations in the dealing of blackjack hands.

Presque Isle Downs & Casino features a synthetic horse racetrack, simulcast racing, table games, and 1,700 slot machines.

Western PA Poker Rooms: Breaking Down Rivers Casino, Presque Isle And Meadows

Here’s a closer look of the three poker rooms scattered across western Pennsylvania, including the 30-table poker room at Rivers Casino.

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

In this column, we’ll take a look at the three poker rooms in the western part of the state — at Presque Isle, Rivers, and Meadows — and see what they have to offer.

Rivers Casino poker

Rivers Casino is the only Pennsylvania casino located in Pittsburgh (right next to Heinz Field), so it’s not surprising the property boasts one of the largest poker rooms in the state, with 30 tables. The Rivers poker room also has one of the better mixes of games and stakes, with both low- and high-limit games available.

Its tournament schedule is also one of the most robust in the state, with two to three daily tournaments. Rivers is a Poker Night in America-branded room and hosts a number of different tournament series throughout the year.

On the promotions front, Rivers has a bad-beat jackpot, as well as “hot seat” and “high hand” giveaways. Rivers also offers 24-hour food service, discounted hotel rates and call-ahead and online seating.

Stakes and games typically found at Rivers are:

  • $1/$3 no-limit hold’em
  • $1/$3/$6 no-limit hold’em
  • $5/$10 no-limit hold’em
  • $10/$20 no-limit hold’em
  • $4/$8 limit hold’em
  • $1/$3 pot-limit Omaha
  • $5/$5 pot-limit Omaha
  • $5/$10 limit Omaha 8
  • State-approved games are available upon request

Presque Isle Casino poker

Situated in Northern Pennsylvania — in Erie —  Presque Isle has a small seven-table poker room that mainly caters to low limit players.

One thing potential visitors should be aware of is, unlike other rooms, the Presque Isle poker room isn’t open 24 hours. The room opens at 1 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. on the weekends. There isn’t a specific closing time, as games run as long as people continue playing.

Presque Isle does offer weekend tournaments and Sit & Go’s (when they run), as well as high-hand promotions on select days and times.

Stakes and games typically found at Presque Isle Casino are:

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

Meadows Casino poker

Nestled in the southwestern corner of the state, in the town of Washington, Meadows Casino boasts a 14-table poker room. This makes it the only real alternative to Rivers Casino in western PA, although it’s still a 30-minute drive from Pittsburgh.

Meadows’ poker room hosts daily poker tournaments, high-hand jackpots, phone-in seating and tableside food delivery.

Meadows’ daily tournaments are some of the lowest buy-ins you’ll find in a casino, with reentry tournaments priced as low as $30, not to mention a $51 buy-in deepstack tournament on several different days.

Stakes and games typically found at Meadows Casino are:

  • $1/$3 no-limit hold’em
  • $1/$3/$6 no-limit hold’em
  • $2/$4 limit hold’em
  • $3/$6 limit hold’em
  • $5/$10 limit hold’em
  • $2/$5 pot-limit Omaha
  • State-approved games are available upon request