The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) approved two more interactive gaming licenses at their recent hearing on October 3. Sands Bethlehem and Valley Forge are able to move forward with offering online poker, slots and table games to players in Pennsylvania.
The approval by the PGCB means Sands Bethlehem and Valley Forge join the ranks of Harrah’s Casino, SugarHouse Casino, Mount Airy, Parx Casino and Hollywood Casino who all got their interactive gaming certificates approved by the board between August and September.
The interactive gaming certificate allow bricks and mortar casinos to offer online slots, table games and online poker to players in Pennsylvania. Payment of $10 million is now payable to the PGCB from the casinos within 60 days of the announcement.
In an unusual twist at the PGCB hearing, Sands Bethlehem could not outline any plans they had to bring online gaming to the state via their casino. This is due to Sands being bought out by Poarch Band of Creek Indians via Wind Creek Hospitality for $1.3 billion. Despite the acquisition progressing, no one at Sands or Wind Creek Hospitality could say what online gaming would look like from the casino.
It was also noted that Sands currently is owned by parent organisation the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, whose CEO is Sheldon Adelson, a staunch opponent to online gambling.
Despite this the PGCB approved the license with the understanding that if Sands doesn’t move forward with offering online poker, casino and table games to its customers there will be no refund of the $10 million and the license will be forfeited.
In contrast, Valley Forge outlined its intentions to begin offering online gaming to its customers, having partnered with Daily Fantasy Sports operator FanDuel for sports betting which requires Valley Forge to purchase an additional license. It is expected that IGT will bring online poker, slots and table games to Valley Forge although details are scant.
So far the IGT platform has not been seen in the United States, so it will be interesting to see how the partnership progresses.
U-Turn from Rivers Casino
In another unprecedented development in Pennsylvania, Rivers Casino, who is owned by Rush Street Gaming, has withdrawn its application for an interactive gaming license.
The decision marked the first time a casino in Pennsylvania has returned a license to the board in this manner.
“Rivers Casino Pittsburgh intends to provide iGaming to Western Pennsylvania and the Commonwealth; however, we’re taking additional time to explore the various options for doing so,” said Jack Horner a spokesperson for Rivers Casino when asked about the U-turn. “Rivers is actively pursuing a sports wagering certificate to offer both land-based and mobile sports betting,” he went on to say.
It is therefore expected that Rivers Casino will enter the sports betting market but will not be offering a full suite of online gaming products.