After several years of debate, Pennsylvania lawmakers voted to legalize online gambling in October 2017 as part of a bill which also authorizes daily fantasy sports, 10 satellite casinos, video gaming terminals at qualified truck stops, and more.
Much like similar laws in New Jersey and Nevada, the legislation allows for licensed PA land-based casinos to partner with online gambling software providers to build and operate their gaming sites. Through these relationships, the state’s casinos, which might not have much experience in the online realm, can develop and launch their iGaming products quickly and efficiently, leveraging software provided by established and reputable companies.
While we are still in the early stages of the process, a handful of casinos and software companies have already gone on record confirming their partnerships. Others can be gleaned by examining PA casino company connections in other states where online gambling has been legalized.
Here is what we currently know and what we can deduce about the future of Internet gaming alliances in the Keystone State.
Harrah’s Philadelphia (Probable partner: 888)
Harrah’s Philadelphia is owned by Chester Downs & Marina, a subsidiary of casino behemoth Caesars Entertainment Corp. In New Jersey and Nevada, multiple Caesars properties are already partnered with 888, which provides the platform for online casino games as well as peer to peer online poker at WSOP.com. 888 also has branded sites of its own, which includes its own poker site.
The software company has invested heavily in its All American Poker Network and Multi State Poker Network, both of which are designed to capitalize when and if iGaming is legalized in other states.
In all likelihood, 888’s relationship with Caesars would continue in PA, and would give properties in both states the chance to create poker compacts which would then feed into one large network.
Mohegan Sun Pocono (Probable partners: NYX Gaming/PokerStars)
The Mohegan Sun Pocono was purchased by the Mohegan Indian tribe in 2005, and was the first slots casino to operate in the state. In New Jersey, Mohegan Sun runs its own online casino through a partnership with Resorts, which it also manages. Also partnered with Resorts in NJ is online poker giant PokerStars, which could claim one of Mohegan’s other available licenses.
Mohegan Sun Casino is powered by NYX Gaming in the Garden State, and is very likely to turn to the same company for its PA offering. PokerStars’ poker room leverages its own award-winning software in New Jersey, which also runs a handful of casino games.
In October 2017, the governors of New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada struck a deal to allow operators to pool their respective poker players into networks. PokerStars would stand to gain immensely if it could expand out of NJ, the only state where it is currently allowed to operate.
Parx Casino (Confirmed partner: GameAccount Network)
Parx Casino is a state-of-the-art gambling property with over 3,500 slots, 130 table games and 80 poker tables. The casino has already solidified a deal with GameAccount Network (GAN) to provide its online casino software, should the industry go live. GAN currently powers Parx’s social casino, ParxOnline.com.
In 2015, GAN put out a press release confirming that it would work with Parx “for all forms of real money Internet gambling (including poker, for the avoidance of doubt) in the event the state of Pennsylvania enacts legislation to regulate real money Internet gaming.”
That said, statements by Parx officials over the past few years make it clear that the company is extremely wary, perhaps even opposed, to legalizing online gambling in the state. In 2014, Parx Chairman Bob Green commented that while he was skeptical of iGaming, the casino would play a role in shaping and participating in the industry if legalized.
In New Jersey, GAN provides the platform for Betfair Casino, one of the top grossing online casinos in the Garden State.
Mount Airy Casino Resort (Confirmed partner: 888)
Located in Mount Pocono, Mount Airy Casino Resort boasts 70 table games and over 1,800 slots. In 2015, 888 announced that it would provide the software platform for the property’s online casino and poker efforts, if iGaming becomes legal, via its All American Poker Network.
The following year, Mount Airy launched a cross promotional effort to advertise 888 Casino NJ on its website and inside its land-based facility. Players who sign up through Mount Airy can receive a $25 no-deposit bonus, which they can only use when they are physically inside the state of New Jersey.
888 also endeavors to host its own branded site, as it does in the Garden State, through its partnerships Caesars Interactive Entertainment.
SugarHouse Casino (Probable partner: Rush Street Interactive)
SugarHouse, owned by HSP Gaming and managed by Rush Street Gaming, is Philadelphia’s only casino. In New Jersey, PlaySugarHouse.com is partnered with Atlantic City’s Golden Nugget, and operates its own branded online gambling site using a platform developed by its iGaming wing, Rush Street Interactive. Even though it got a late start in the state – it launched three years after gaming went live there – it has done quite well for itself.
If PA decides to regulate, the casino will surely use the same in-house software, which it continues to refine in the Garden State.
Rivers Casino (Probable partner: Rush Street Interactive)
Rivers casino, located in Pittsburgh, is another Rush Street Gaming property and is therefore extremely likely to use the Rush Street Interactive gaming platform.
Sands Bethlehem (Probable partner: None)
Las Vegas Sands, Sands Bethlehem’s parent company, is headed up by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a staunch opponent of the propagation of online gambling in the US. Adelson has waged a multiyear war against the industry and has contributed generously to lawmakers who push his bespoke anti-gaming bill, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act.
Adelson claims that his motivations are to protect the country’s most vulnerable residents, but others see nothing more than a cynical ploy to stave off competition to his land-based casinos. Unless the Sands Bethlehem is sold, the casino will not be launching an online gaming site.