Pennsylvania Online Casinos in 2019

Pennsylvania is the most recent state to finally legalize gambling online and 2019 looks like it’s going to be a very busy year as casinos are scrambling to roll out their online for PA residents to gamble online.

Update: It has been confirmed that online casinos and poker markets will both officially launch on July 15!

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It’s currently uncertain when exactly online casinos will be available however the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board have already approved interactive gaming licenses for 10 casinos.

Pennsylvania Casinos Map

The current landscape (in alphabetical order) is as follow:

Casino Projected launch Gaming License Status
Golden Nugget NJ N/A Pending
Harrah’s Philadelphia 2019 Approved
Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course 2019 Approved
MGM Resorts International N/A Pending
Mohegan Sun Pocono N/A Approved
Mount Airy Casino Resort 2019 Approved
Parx Casino 2019 Approved
Presque Isle Downs & Casino 2019 Approved
Sands Bethlehem N/A Approved
Stadium Park Philly Live! Casino N/A Approved
SugarHouse Casino 2019 Approved
Valley Forge Casino Resort 2019 Approved

source: https://gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov/files/legislation/iGaming_Petitions_list.pdf

On October 26 2017, a gambling expansion bill (H 271) was passed which accounted for the legalization of online casino games, poker games, slots, fantasy and sports betting.

While it has been over a year since this bill as passed, the reason why there are still no online casinos available to play at today is due to the back and forth discussion in finalizing tax rates and licensing fees.

Lawmakers originally floated a whopping 54% tax rate on slots and a 16% tax rate on tables games and poker which originally deterred many casinos from applying.

On top of that, the H 271 bill also defines three distinct licenses which operators must pay for each vertical they intend to offer.

These are:

  • Online Slots
  • Table Games
  • Online Poker

Operators can opt to pay $10 million for a packaged license to offer all three or pay $4 million for each license they would like to offer separately.

Industry Overview

Pennsylvania is one of the newest states in the USA to allow legal casino gambling. The PGCB was created in 2004 and the state now has ten casinos operating in its territory. Just a few years ago, the state of Pennsylvania went through a major transformation in terms of its gambling laws, with the expansion of its gaming sector producing the second-biggest gaming revenue in the country, with Nevada leading the way.

When the gambling board was created, the state was authorised to license 14 establishments offering slot machines, while other casino games like table games, was authorised in 2010 by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. While the gaming industry in the state has grown in leaps and bounds since then, Pennsylvania continued to look for ways to grow the state’s gaming industry. Online casinos seemed to be the best way to do this.

Pennsylvania is a Leading Gambling Destination in America

The legal gambling industry was non-existent in Pennsylvania until 2005, until the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs started hosting slot machines in 2006. This made the establishment the first in Pennsylvania to offer players the chance to play slots legally, becoming an historic moment in the state’s gaming industry. After that, several racinos, which is a term for the combination of a race track and casino games, opened up as well as several casinos. There are currently 12 legal casinos in Pennsylvania. Some of these venues were based near Philadelphia, while Pittsburgh also hosts a its own gaming venue. Since 2010, these venues are were allowed to offer not only slot machines, but a variety of table games, offering players a broader range of gaming opportunities from which to choose.

In addition to casinos, there are other ways to legally gamble in the state as well. The Pennsylvania Lottery is popular as it not only offers gamblers the chance to win big through state-wide jackpots like Mega Millions and Power Ball, but it also has its own games and horse-race betting a several tracks.

This expanded again in 2013, when lawmakers loosened their grip on gambling and allowed bars and clubs with the proper license to feature certain games of chance, including draws, pub games and raffles that offered a prize up to $2,000. That said, not many bars and taverns actually opted to apply for the licenses due to the high cost of applications and the long process. By mid-2014, less than 25 applied for the license by the state, which is substantially less than the 2,000 the state had predicted. To encourage more businesses to apply for the gambling license, regulators decided to cut fees, but it continues to be less successful than predicted.

A Look at Online Casinos in Pennsylvania

While the gaming sector in Pennsylvania grew, attention was turned to online gaming as some lawmakers thought the state was lagging behind in terms of Internet gambling offerings when compared to other states. Lawmakers agreed that the state needed to think of ways to stay ahead of the game in one of the most competitive markets in the world. The state was concerned that their position as a leading gambling destination would be lost thanks to numerous states growing in this sector – New York and Massachusetts were adding new resorts, Maryland and Delaware were going through expansions of their own and New Jersey officially introduced legal online gambling.

Due to the success of Atlantic City’s online gambling scene, some legislators pushed bills in Pennsylvania, although the results are varied. Some only allowed for online poker, while others authorised a wider selection of casino games. The most promising result came in November 2015, when some progress was made on the first of these bills in the state legislature. John Payne, the State Representative and chairman of the House of Gaming Oversight Committee, pushed his legislation. This was another historic moment as it was the first time an online gambling bill was passed through the committee.The bill was approved by a vote of 18-8. This law allowed for not only online gambling, but for slot machines to be introduced to other locations around the state, including airports and other venues not traditionally housing casino games.

This ruling gave gamblers in the state a bit of hope that online gambling would soon be regulated and become commonplace in Pennsylvania. Due to the financial gains and possibilities of legalizing online gambling, Pennsylvania could well be in line to be the next state to regulate online gambling in the USA. While it’s not yet certain, the odds are looking good. While the government no doubt has concerns giving players more opportunities to gamble in the state, there aren’t many disputes against regulating online casinos and betting practices. All this plus the fact that there is a second resort opening in Philadelphia makes Pennsylvania a frontrunner and the next US state to offer legal online gambling.

History of PA Gambling Laws

March 2019

  • iGaming is now forecasted to begin mid 2019
  • NetEnt is granted a conditional license by the PGCB

February 2019

January 2019

  • Mohegan Sun Pocono signs partnership with Kindred Group to provide online gaming/sports betting platform.

December 2018

  •  Mohegan Sun Pocono is granted a license by the PGCB for interactive casino and table games.

November 2018

  • The PGCB awards sports betting licenses to Harrahs Philadelphia Casino, Rivers Casino and Sugarhouse Casino.
  • The PGCB approves the interactive casino license applications of Stadium Casino and Presque Isle Downs.
  • Penn National launches the first retail sportsbook in the state at the Hollywood Casino
  • The PGCB approves PokerStars for a conditional license to operate interactive poker within the state once online poker is regulated.

October 2018

  • The PGCB awards ssports betting licenses to Parx Casino and Penn National.

September 2018

  • The PGCCB awards interactive gaming licenses to Penn National and SugarHouse. Casino

August 2018

  • The PGCB awards three interactive casino gaming licenses to Harrah’s Casino Philadelphia, Parx and Mount Airy Resort Casino but does not establish a date in which interactive gaming can commence.

July 2018

  • The PGCB commenced accepting sports betting license applications from prospective operators, manufacturers, and suppliers.

June 2018

  • The PGCB drafts and approves temporary sports betting regulations for the state

February 2018

  • The PGCB announces it will accept license applications for interactive gaming starting from 2 April 2018.

October 2017

  • The Senate voted in favor of the gambling bill HB271

June 2017

  • The House of Representatives voted in favor of gambling bill – HB271 which provides for the regulation of interactive gaming.

February 2017

  • HB392 is proposed for a range of amendments across the gambling industry including the authorization and regulation of interactive gaming,

June 2016

  • State Representative George Dunbar introduced HB2150, to regulate daily fantasy sports contests.
  • Representative Rosita Youngblood introduced amendments to HB2150, that would allow casino operators to partner with interactive gaming companies to offer interactive casino and poker games in the state.

December 2015

  • Representative Robert Matzie introduces House Resolution 619, to urge Congress to lift the Federal ban on sportsbetting. Whilst the bill itself will have no bearing on the decisions made by Congress, it stands as a statement of an intent to legislate in the future.

November 2015

  • The House Gaming Oversight Committee, passed HB649, to regulate online poker and casino games. The bill, sponsored by John Payne, was submitted to the House of Representatives for consideration.

July 2015

  • State Representative Nick Kotik, introduced HB1408, that would authorize and regulate the operation of slots machines at six international airports throughout the state.
  • In response to studies highlighting premature gambling amongst youths, lawmakers introduce HB 1456 to prohibit licensed operators from offering simulated interactive gaming

June 2015

  • Senate President Joe Scarnatti, along with three other Senators, announced a joint initiative to introduce SB900, a Bill that would authorize interactive gambling. The bill would amend the Horse Racing Development and Gaming Act, to permit land-based casinos to offer slots and table games online to players within the state that have a registered account;
  • SB900 would impose a 54% tax on interactive gaming operators and an initial license fee of $10 million.

May 2015

  • 888 Holdings announces a partnership with Mount Airy Casino in hopes to launch an online poker platform if the state moves to regulate interactive gaming..

April 2015

  • HB920 is introduced by Tina Davis to regulate online gaming in Pennsylvania.  Under this bill, online players would be required to register at land-based casinos for approval.

March 2015

  • Bwin.party announces a market access partner which could enable them to become the first regulated interactive operator within the state.

February 2015

  • State Representative John Payne introduces HB649 to regulate online poker games approved by the PGCB.

January 2015

  • State Representatives introduce bill HB165 which would make casinos close between 2am and 6am daily.

November 2014

  • PCGB awards a casino license to Stadium Casino which was scheduled for completion by 2016.

July 2013

March 2012

September 2010

August 2009

May 2009

February 2008

November 2007

December 2006

  • Parx Casino is officially opened.

2004

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