Mohegan Sun Says No To Online Poker; Stadium Eyes South Philly Sportsbook

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The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) met today to discuss and act on a number of issues, most notably awarding a conditional online gambling permit to the parent company of Mohegan Sun.

The Board also delved into a number of other topics and spoke with representatives from Penn National and Stadium Casino, giving us more insight into the future of the state’s online casino and sports betting industries.

Mohegan Sun gets approved, but folds poker hand

Representatives from Mohegan Sun were the first to address the Board this morning, making their case as to why the Wilkes-Barre casino should be approved for an internet gaming license.

Officials explained that the company would use technology supplied by NYX and Scientific Games to power its online offering, no surprise considering its sister site in New Jersey relies on the same duo.

In addition, the company revealed that it would be rescinding the license it had purchased to offer online poker in the Commonwealth. 

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Mohegan dragged its feet in the initial application process, missing out on the deadline to purchase a package to offer online slots, table games, and poker at a reduced price of $10 million.

Instead, it jumped in late in the game, surprisingly snapping up licenses for all three verticals for $4 million each, effectively paying $2 million more than it needed to.

But running a successful poker site in the legal U.S. market is no easy task, mostly due to the ring-fenced nature of the regulated industry. What’s more, it was initially thought that online poker behemoth PokerStars might partner with Mohegan Sun in the Keystone State, due to its connections with the operator in New Jersey, which would give it an advantage over the competition.

Mohegan, however, was spurned when ‘Stars decided to link up with Mount Airy instead.

That confluence of factors likely made the casino rethink whether the extra money, and future investment required, would be worth it.

Mohegan is the second PA casino to experience buyer’s remorse after purchasing an online poker license — Stadium Casino made a similar move at last month’s hearing.

After the presentation, regulators voted to approve Mohegan Sun’s conditional internet gaming license, as well as its request to give up its poker permit.

Stadium Casino’s demise has been greatly exaggerated

Stadium Casino, the parent company behind the forthcoming Live! Hotel and Casino, also appeared at the hearing, ostensibly to ask for an extension in getting its slot machines up and running.

The project is slated to begin construction in the next year, with officials hoping for a 2020 grand opening.

Last month, however, rumors swirled that the project may be dead in the water, or that developers were shopping around for a potential sale.

After today’s meeting, though, it has become clear that this isn’t the case. Stadium officials laid out robust plans for the upcoming casino complex and explained that the project was well on its way to becoming a reality.

What’s more, they revealed that the company would pump even more money into the facility, increasing investment from $450 million to $700 million, turning it into the largest construction project in all of Philadelphia.

Stadium’s request to extend its slot machine time limit was approved, giving it an additional 24 months to get the machines up and running.

It was also revealed in a PowerPoint presentation that Stadium Casino would be opening its own sportsbook, something which is not at all shocking, considering that the property’s planned location is smack dab in the state’s sports epicenter. If it applies for a sports betting license soon, it will be the seventh PA facility to do so.

Penn National touts sportsbook “vitality”

A little over a week ago, Hollywood Casino became the first PA gambling facility to offer legal sports betting in the state. At today’s hearing, reps from Penn were in attendance, hoping to receive renewal for the company’s flagship casino in Grantville.

The request was something of a formality and was easily approved. However, execs did take a little time to boast about the “vitality” of the atmosphere in the area of the casino’s nascent sportsbook. 

They explained that a younger demographic was beginning to come through the doors, and that they were not only making sports bets, but betting on horses as well. They said that the same went for veteran horse bettors, who had become interested in placing sports wagers between races.

Other iGaming approvals

While the main focus of the meeting dealt with Stadium, Penn National, and Mohegan Sun, several companies known as iGaming manufacturers were also approved to operate in the state. These types of companies can provide either games or platforms that licensees use as the backbone of their online gaming sites.

One of those approved was Kambi, a Malta-based sports wagering software provider, which is becoming a major player in U.S. sports betting.

“We are delighted to have received our transactional waiver from the PGCB today, which puts us one step closer to launching the Kambi sportsbook with our partners in the state,” Kambi Chief Commercial Officer Max Meltzer told PennBets. “I’m confident the players of Pennsylvania will enjoy what Kambi has to offer both on property and online, particularly through the lens of our fantastic customers, who will have the ability to leverage our empowerment tools to differentiate, innovate, and create exciting sports betting experiences.”

Additionally, the following iGaming companies were approved:

  • The Stars Group
  • NYX Digital Gaming
  • IGT
  • Rush Street Interactive
  • Novamatic

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Bill Grinstead

Bill has over a decade of experience working in diverse aspects of the online gambling space. He is currently focused on legal, US online gaming, which he has reported on since the industry first became regulated in the country.

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