BetMGM received approval from Pennsylvania regulators for permanent operation of its new online casino site Friday, making it live by 1 p.m. local time as the 13th such option for gamblers in the state.
The official approval followed three days of temporary hours of operation — but with real-money play for slots and table games — under monitoring by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Broadcast advertising of the new site began during its test period.
BetMGM, which first launched online casino games in New Jersey, was able to gain access to Pennsylvania through an agreement with Penn National Gaming using one of the “skins” of that company’s Hollywood Casino.
Hollywood Casino already has its own online gaming site, and its logo shows up next to BetMGM’s at the top of the new site. BetMGM is a joint venture of MGM Resorts International and GVC Holdings.
“We’re thrilled to bring BetMGM’s online casino offering to Pennsylvania,” BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt said in a press release. “With more than 140 different games, including our own in-house progressive jackpot network, we’re delivering the widest range of content currently available in the state.”
Initial bonus match is $1,000, but with conditions
Casino.pa.betmgm.com shows 120 different slots options, with most of the games familiar to those who have been playing on other Pennsylvania sites. It also touts several “exclusive jackpot” games, such as MGM Grand Millions and Loot’En Khamun, with top prizes of more than $139,000 available at launch.
There are also multiple versions of blackjack and roulette, as well as video poker options, baccarat, and Let It Ride.
The site is available for desktop play or by iOS and Android downloads, with customary deposit or withdrawal options available to players 21 or older within Pennsylvania.
One area where BetMGM differs from competitors is its welcome offer. It provides $25 in free play just for registering an account, which is generous.
Also on the high side is its offer to match initial deposits up to $1,000 with bonus funds given to players. There’s a rigorous 15X play-through requirement before bonus funds are released for potential withdrawal, however, and that requirement is higher than among many competitors.
Sportsbook, poker still in the offing
Unlike its iCasino competitors in the state, BetMGM has neither a Pennsylvania brick-and-mortar casino nor a mobile sportsbook. The lack of a land-based facility meant BetMGM could either enter as a licensed “qualified gaming entity” by paying the state a $12 million fee — as it initially intended to do — or reaching a financial arrangement with an existing casino operator in order to obtain one of its three iGaming skins.
By partnering with Penn National and its Hollywood Casino, BetMGM only had to pay a $1 million fee for an iGaming operator license.
BetMGM obtained that license Oct. 28 from the gaming board, as well as a license to offer sports wagering. The company provides sports betting in six other states, but not yet Pennsylvania. It again would have to partner with an existing casino operator. BetMGM said recently that it expects to offer sports wagering in the state “before the end of the year,” but it has not publicized the means by which it will do so. Penn National and Hollywood Casino, after recently launching the Barstool Sportsbook app, would not seem the potential partner.
In an email to Penn Bets Friday, spokeswoman Elisa Richardson said the new iCasino “lays the foundation for the launch of our sports betting offering in the state, which will be available statewide in the coming weeks, pending regulatory approval. We’re also actively working on bringing BetMGM’s poker offering to the state.”
BetMGM will at some point make use of GVC’s Partypoker brand in Pennsylvania. That online poker operation, which is offered in New Jersey, could become the second such site in Pennsylvania, joining PokerStars.
All told, the various online slot, table, and poker play in Pennsylvania among 12 operators added up to a record $59.8 million in revenue in October. A comparable figure might be expected in November, and with BetMGM now in operation, December will likely be responsible for new record highs.