Although there may be a number of states who are, and/or have been, taking a cursory look at the possibility of legalizing online gambling, most experts agree that Pennsylvania is the only one with a practical chance of doing so. California has too many disagreements to work out, New York said it won’t regulate until its new Upstate casinos are finished, and Massachusetts’ slow-paced legislation is unlikely to move ahead anytime soon since it just saw its first casino open in 2015.
For Pennsylvania, which is home to the second highest yielding gambling industry in the United States (flanked by Nevada at #1, New Jersey at #3), moving forward with legalized online gambling is simply a matter of legislators getting on the same page.
Over the last few years, they’ve held many discussions and introduced numerous bills. If there’s one thing most agree on, it’s that they need to regulate the activity to better compete with their neighbors and generate additional revenue for the state.
If Pennsylvania Legalized Online Gambling
Here’s a look at some of the things that are most likely to occur if Pennsylvania moves forward with online gambling.
Timeline for Regulation and Launch
First of all, it’s going to take anywhere from 3 to 12 months to get from Point A (legalization) to Point B (launch of online gambling sites).
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will be tasked with writing up regulations and licensing requirements, as well as accepting, reviewing and approving applications for licenses, not just from casinos and software developers, but geolocation service providers, payment processors, etc.
The time it takes to fulfill that task will depend on how they go about it. It wouldn’t make much since to draft all new regulations when New Jersey has spent the last two years proving their system already works seamlessly.
PA could easily copy those regulations to get the ball rolling much faster, and could even avoid the expensive and time-consuming process of fully evaluating any license applicant that is already licensed to operate in Delaware, Nevada and/or New Jersey.
Land-Based Casinos that Will & Won’t Join
As for which land-based casinos are likely to apply for an operator’s license, that’s a pretty easy list to script. Guaranteed applicants include:
Parx Casino (already partnered with iGaming software brand GameAccount Network), Mount Airy Casino (already partnered with 888), Valley Forge Casino (believed to be partnered with bwin.party), Penn National (already hired an online gaming director, Chris Sheffield), Rush Street Gaming’s SugarHouse Casino and Rivers Casino (owner already licensed in NJ), Harrah’s Casino (sure to partner with 888, as they have in NV, NJ), and Mohegan Sun (owns Resorts Casino in NJ and is partnered with NYX for iGaming there).
The only land-based casino in PA that won’t be jumping aboard this hypothetical bandwagon is Bethlehem Sands, owned by Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. Adelson has made his vehemence of legalized online gambling well know.
One last piece to the puzzle is the possibility of player sharing compacts with other US states where online gaming (poker in particular) is already legal.
Nevada and Delaware have such a compact, but there populations of about 3 million and 1 million respectively haven’t produced any tangible results. New Jersey, with a population of about 9 million, has steered clear of interstate compacts thus far.
With an even greater population of 12 million, Pennsylvania just might be enticing enough to attract a player pooling compact from New Jersey. If that’s the case, partnering with Delaware and Nevada becomes more likely as well, and that, in turn, could possibly be incentive enough to incite a new swarm of states looking to get in on the revenue potential of legalized online gambling.