Pennsylvania is gearing up for the start of online gambling in the state by handing out more sports betting licenses to applicants.
A casino operator and a couple of different suppliers of tech were on the receiving end of licenses from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) in December.
This comes at a time when online sports betting is taking off in New Jersey, which is seeing more revenues from online sports betting than at physical locations.
It is no surprise that Pennsylvania will be looking to take over this mantle when online sports betting begins in 2019.
The latest deals
One of the parties that got approval is Valley Forge Casino, which deals with two different parties when it comes to sports betting and interactive gaming. This makes their licensing a bit more difficult to deal with.
Valley Forge is getting the FanDuel team to look after its sports betting offering as part of its new license. This partnership has been in the works for some time, with both parties working together since before the application was made.
The two companies are going to build a brand new facility for their on-site sports betting offering. There will be six kiosks and enough seating space for 30 bettors. It will be a similar layout to that in the Meadowlands sports betting lounge in New Jersey, where FanDuel is successfully operating its sportsbook.
FanDuel is working hard at getting its online offering ready in Pennsylvania, for both mobile and desktop. Of the casinos in Pennsylvania, Valley Forge has become the sixth to have gotten a license from the authorities.
The other parties to get the green light are the Stars Group and Scientific Games. The Stars Group is now licensed to offer its BetStars platform in Pennsylvania. As part of their license, it will be operating under Mount Airy, which as part of the PokerStars brand, will also be operating the online poker and online casino offering for Stars Group.
Scientific Games will have Harrah’s as their main client as part of its new license. It is also planning to deal with the interactive gaming side of things at the Mohegan Sun Pocono.
Finally, Rush Street Gaming is now able to offer online gambling in the state through its SugarHouse and Rivers Casinos. This covers sports betting, online poker and online casino play.
Future of gambling in the state
There was a somewhat slow uptake on sports betting licenses in Pennsylvania, largely due to the hefty $10m license fee, as well as the significant tax rate on revenues of 36%. But they are becoming more popular.
Currently, six different operators have gotten their sports betting licenses and have been performing well since the first of those to be approved opened their sportsbooks in November. With online sports betting coming in 20189, operators are looking to take off in terms of their revenues.
There is also going to be a more widespread offering of online casinos in the state. Currently, casino revenues in Pennsylvania are the second highest in the United States, behind only Nevada. As newly expanded policies come into play in 2019, operators will be eyeing up this top spot.
The high tax rate will still be an issue in the future, but other states have since brought in even heftier tax rates. Rhode Island, for example, started offering sports betting recently and it has a 51% tax rate in place.
There are hopes that Pennsylvania may lower this tax in the future to encourage more investment into the space. While sports betting is not going to be a major earner in terms of profits for the operators, there will be many knock-on consequences.
It will lead to more people placing bets and make it more likely they will take part in other forms of gambling. It will also bring more money to the reign in terms of partnerships with teams and events. It will certainly be interesting to look at the figures month on month in 2019 once online sports betting and gambling takes off.