Poker dealers at Parx Casino outside Philadelphia weren’t able to score a victory on Wednesday with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
Regulators denied the casino’s request for a waiver to a regulation overseeing the process of poker dealers collecting their tips at the end of a shift. It’s not every day that the PGCB rejects a relatively minor request from a casino. Parx is the state’s largest casino in terms of gambling revenue.
Neither Parx, home to a 48-table poker room, nor any of its poker dealers were called up to provide comments at the PGCB meeting this week in Harrisburg.
Dealers have to wait
Parx, through its owner Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, sought to modify its “internal control procedures” so that poker dealers could sort their tips, which come in the form of chips from poker-playing customers, before handing them over to the cashier’s cage for counting and recording.
Parx wanted its poker dealers to be able to rack their tips by denomination so that the staff working in the cage can more quickly count them. The cashiers also have to cash out the poker players, so they are often busy, which often makes it so dealers have to stick around longer to complete the process before going home. It was said that dealers commonly wait roughly 30 minutes to have their tips counted and recorded.
The tip boxes, which the poker dealers carry with them from table to table, cannot be opened by the dealers themselves, according to the PGCB’s decision. That’s despite Parx informing regulators that dealers would rack their tips under video surveillance.
The proposed change didn’t have anything to do with ensuring accurate tip counting, as the cashiers already count and record the tips in the presence of the dealer.
Regardless of the benefits to the casino and its employees, the PGCB didn’t think the change would be a good one for the state, as it explained briefly that it believes the regulation waiver might result in “dealers pocketing chips before they are counted, thereby hiding income from taxing authorities.”
Sorry poker dealers, the PGCB doesn’t trust y’all, even if the casino you work for does.
The petition from Parx was the subject of a closed-door hearing in August.
Interactive gaming launch
There was a chance that Wednesday’s hearing was going to reveal a definitive timeline for the state’s online casino gaming launch. That didn’t happen, unfortunately, but regulators were informed that the process of licensure for Marina District Development Company (the parent company of MGM Resorts’ Borgata casino in Atlantic City) and Golden Nugget Pennsylvania (effectively Atlantic City’s Golden Nugget) was moving along.
The PGCB was informed that both MGM and Golden Nugget have provided all the documentation needed to (potentially) obtain regulatory approval to conduct interactive gaming.
Those two firms were able to seek entry into the Pennsylvania online casino market thanks to the fact that not all of the state’s existing casinos claimed the available permits that were authorized under the state’s 2017 online casino law.
MGM is seeking to offer all three forms of interactive gaming (poker, slots and table games), while Golden Nugget wants to offer just the house-banked games as it does in New Jersey.
The next meeting of the PGCB is slated for February 6, at which time it’s possible, even probable, that Golden Nugget and MGM will see their licenses approved. If so, we suspect that the duo could be included in the wave of regulated iGaming sites that launch sometime this spring.
Here’s the full PGCB hearing for those who missed the action.