PA Online Gaming Process to Start
Pennsylvania’s new online gaming business is set to begin its application period next month, according to a top regulator. Kevin O’Toole, executive director of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, told a state House budget panel last week that the board is prepared to begin accepting applications for iGaming licenses in mid-April.
That will kick off a 90-day period in which applications for different online gaming licenses will be accepted by the board. Only current land-based licensees will be permitted to apply for iGaming Licenses during this initial period, and according to the rules, the only licensing available during the initial period will be a package deal—online slot, table-game a peer-to-peer poker licenses for a fee of $10 million.
In August, any remaining licenses will be available individually to current licensees, at a cost of $4 million each. Thirty days after that, the board will accept licenses from outside the Pennsylvania’s current casino industry.
What remains to be seen is who applies for which license, and it is feasible that no current casino will opt for an all-in-one license because of the tax structure set up by Pennsylvania’s gaming expansion law—particularly the 54 percent tax for online slot games, which mirrors the land-based slot tax. Many operators have said they will not seek licenses for online slots at that tax rate, which they say is unworkable, particularly when online gaming in neighboring New Jersey is taxed at around 9 percent, regardless of the game.
It is conceivable that casinos could wait until after the initial 90-day period and purchase licenses for online poker or table games only.
The other important thing to keep in mind with this timeline is when non-Pennsylvania entities can start applying. After 120 days, approved outside entities can apply for the individual $4 million licenses.
Online casinos are not the only new element for Pennsylvania gambling. Applications and launch dates are in motion on several different fronts. O’Toole said licenses for video gambling terminals (VGTs) at truck stops should be available around the same time as online casinos, and online lottery sales will begin in May.
Last week, the board also released details on applying for a fantasy sports license.
The board has yet to decide on some online gaming regulations, most prominently whether or not licensees will be permitted more than one “skin,” or iGaming site, as in New Jersey. Some operators are pushing for multiple domains while others are seeking to limit casinos to one skin.