Like every other aspect of PA’s online gambling industry, permits will not be cheap, and come at a cost of $1 million. Developers who wish to apply can do so on the PGCB website by first filling out this 59-page form.
The revelation sets a firm target for online casino software companies hoping to partner with one of the state’s brick-and-mortar casinos, but leaves open the question as to whether so-called “skins” will be permitted.
What are online gambling software platforms?
iGaming platforms are the backbone of any online casino, and are used to not only to power the games featured on the site, but to handle backend functions like account management and things like fraud detection.
PA casino operators essentially have two options when building their online sites: build a software platform from the ground up or partner with an experienced iGaming software provider.
Creating robust casino software which is not only attractive to customers, but technically sound, is an expensive and risky project. SugarHouse Casino chose to go this route, and to the surprise of many, has become one of New Jersey’s top iGaming operators.
Most PA casino licensees will likely opt to partner with a trusted and experienced third-party provider, however. This holds especially true for smaller casinos, like Valley Forge and Hollywood, which can use such software to get up and running quickly and to even the playing field with their more well-funded competitors.
Who might apply for a platform license?
As the US iGaming market is still relatively small, there only handful of big-name gambling software providers which have thrown their hat into the ring. Here are a few we might expect to see apply in Pennsylvania:
- SG Digital: Formally NYX and SG Interactive, SG Digital is a leading gaming software developer which powers several virtual casinos in New Jersey.
- GameAccount Network: Based in London, GAN powers Betfair Casino in NJ and is slated to partner with Parx Casino in PA.
- 888: Known for both its poker and casino software internationally, 888 has confirmed a partnership with Mount Airy in Pennsylvania.
- GVC: Formerly known as bwin.party, GVC provides both poker and casino software in the Garden State.
Keeping some skin in the game
The question is still open as to how many gaming sites each certificate holder will have the option of launching. In New Jersey, five brick-and-mortar casinos hold iGaming licenses, but are each allowed to partner with up to five (in reality, more than five) skins. The system has allowed not only state casinos, but software developers like 888 and Virgin to operate their own branded iGaming sites.
Eager to protect their brands, Parx and Penn National have lobbied to limit skins to one per certificate holder. We believe that such a system will stall innovation, decrease marketing spend and all but ensure that the industry does not reach its full potential.
We will likely have more information on the issue very soon. The PGCB is slated to release more temporary regulations on April 4, which will probably include its decision on skins.
What comes next on the timeline?
The PGCB announcement adds another piece to the puzzle, and brings the state closer to a fully operational online gambling industry. Here are some pertinent upcoming dates:
- April 2: Gaming manufacturers can apply for approval
- April 4: Additional temporary regulations will be issued, possibly including a decision on skins
- April 16: Brick-and-mortar casinos may apply for an iGaming certificate
- June 4: Software platform providers may apply for licensing
- July 16: Operators may buy slots, table games or poker permits separately
- November 16: Our estimated launch date for PA online casinos
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