Online poker is coming back to Pennsylvania.
For the first two months after the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) started taking applications for a $10 million license to operate online poker, online slots, and online table games in PA, things didn’t look so good. In fact, not one of the state’s existing 13 casino license holders applied.
However, at what amounted to the 11th hour before the July 16, 2018 deadline, nine casino license holders finally sent in applications.
They all could have waited until after the deadline and applied for individual licenses to operate the three different types of online gambling at a cost of $4 million each. However, it appears these PA casino licenses holders are interested in pursuing online poker, online slots, and online table game operations.
Nine online casino applicants for now
Of course, the four casino license holders that did not apply for the full license may still have an interest in any one of them. But for now, it appears there will be nine legal and regulated online poker sites opening up in PA before long.
The nine PA casino license holders that applied for the license include:
- Parx Casino owner Greenwood Gaming
- Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem owner Sands Bethworks Gaming (Operating on behalf of Wind Creek Hospitality)
- Rivers Casino owner Holdings Acquisition Co.
- SugarHouse Casino owner SugarHouse HSP Gaming
- Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack owner Chester Downs and Marina
- Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course owner Mountain Thoroughbred Racing Association
- Mount Airy Casino Resort owner Mount Airy #1
- Valley Forge Casino Resort owner Valley Forge Convention Center Partners (Operating on behalf of Boyd Gaming Corporation)
- Stadium Casino builders Stadium Casino LLC (A Cordish Companies and Greenwood Gaming partnership)
Over the next three months the Board will look to examine and approve the applications. Following approval, each entity will have 60 days to pay the $10 million licensing fee.
The following is a detailed look at each company’s online poker plans to date:
Parx Casino operates the largest and most successful poker room in the state. It’s Parx Big Stax poker tournament series, which runs five times annually, is also the gold standard for poker tournament series in PA.
Parx will use online gambling software supplier GAN to develop its online gambling platform, and although GAN has no background in online poker software, it now appears to be getting one.
Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack
As a Caesars Entertainment property, Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack is home to a World Series of Poker-branded poker room. The WSOP is a Caesars Entertainment brand and the most well-known name in poker.
Using 888 Holdings software, Caesars Entertainment already runs WSOP-branded online poker rooms in Nevada and New Jersey. Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack is clearly a favorite to take the WSOP brand online in PA as well.
Valley Forge Casino Resort
Valley Forge Casino Resort was recently purchased by Boyd Gaming. In July 2018, Boyd and MGM Resorts International struck a deal to join forces to take its online poker, online casino, and mobile sports betting products nationwide.
MGM uses GVC Holdings software for online poker products in New Jersey. It even hosts GVC’s well-known partypoker online poker brand under its license in the Garden State. Not coincidentally, Valley Forge has long been rumored to have some type of online gambling deal in place with GVC as well.
Nothing has been confirmed to date, but it looks like Valley Forge is a favorite to host the partypoker brand in PA.
Rivers Casino and SugarHouse Casino
Both Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh and SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia are Rush Street Gaming properties. The online arm of the company, Rush Street Interactive, runs an online gambling site in New Jersey. However, there is no real-money online poker site associated with the brand at this point.
The closest thing Rush Street has is an online poker mobile app based on its popular Poker Night in America TV program.
Both its PA casinos already leverage the popularity of the show, suggesting a Poker Night in America online poker room could be a part of their future.
Mount Airy Casino Resort
Mount Airy Casino Resort has a long-standing partnership with online poker and gambling company 888 Holdings. Plus, it named online poker giant PokerStars as a possible partner in its PA online gambling license application.
No matter which way it goes, the relatively small Mount Airy will have a big online poker partner.
Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course
Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course owner Penn National Gaming had its Hollywood branded play-money online social casino site designed by casino tech developer Scientific Games.
Like GAN, Scientific Games has no online poker tech to speak of, leaving the shape of Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course’s online poker offering in question.
The property is still under construction and will not open until at least 2020. Therefore, the Stadium Casino plan for online poker is really a mystery. It is apparently still under construction as well.
Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem
Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem parent company Las Vegas Sands and owner Sheldon Adelson have declared online gambling public enemy number one.
The property is in the middle of being sold to Alabama’s Poarch Band of Creek Indians’ Wind Creek Hospitality though. Closing conditions of the a $1.3 billion sale have apparently forced Sands to apply for an online gambling license.
This makes it tough to say what’s in store for Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem and online poker in PA.