Pennsylvania’s top land-based casino, Parx in the Philadelphia suburb of Bensalem, is now also, for all intents and purposes, the state’s top online casino. At least temporarily.
The Keystone state’s brick-and-mortar casino revenue leader became the second PA property to launch an online casino, kicking off its “soft launch” period at 2 p.m. on Monday, July 15.
That put Parx about three hours behind Hollywood Casino’s online arm on the first day of legal online casino play in the Keystone State. But considering all the ways in which Hollywood’s offering is lacking — at least initially — Parx’s relatively polished product shot straight to the head of the class.
Whether it will remain so after SugarHouse joins the party, reported to be happening on Wednesday, is anybody’s guess. But for the moment, Parx has a leg up on the competition.
Two days of testing
After Pennsylvania passed a bill legalizing online gambling in October 2017, Parx became the first casino in the state to submit a finalized application for a license. It was approved on Aug. 15, 2018. Exactly 11 months later, a limited selection of virtual slots and table games are open for business.
As is the case with all digital gaming in PA right now, including sports betting, the Parx app is available on Android mobile devices but not Apple devices. So iPhone owners are limited to playing on their laptop and desktop computers, possibly for many months to come.
The soft launch — a brief period during which the gaming commission can test and ensure that such safety measures as geolocation and age verification are working properly — is scheduled to run until 10 p.m. tonight and again on Tuesday, July 16, from 2 p.m. to midnight. If all goes well, starting Wednesday, Parx’s online casino games will be available ’round the clock.
Limited game selection
Parx is partnered with GAN as its software developer.
As is the case with Hollywood Casino, the game selection is underwhelming as of this initial launch. But Parx’s games operate more smoothly, and there are at least a couple of classic table games, unlike Hollywood.
There were 47 games in total of this writing, though Parx seems to be adding new titles sporadically throughout this opening day. Most of them are online slots, such as:
- African Diamond
- Ancient Dragon
- Carnival in Rio
- Magic Portals
- Secrets of Atlantis
Parx also has two forms of video poker — Deuces Wild and Jacks or Better — with payout tables that are slightly less egregious than the early offerings at Hollywood.
There are two options for roulette: European Roulette, with just a single green zero space, and American Roulette, with a double zero. Not the finest of advertisements for America.
Parx also offers online blackjack, and in keeping with Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board rules, a natural 21 pays 3:2. However, rather surprisingly, the minimum bet, at least for now, is $5, and you can only play one hand at a time. At most New Jersey online casinos, the table minimum is $1 or less and a player sit in multiple “seats.”
Deposits and bonuses
Whereas Hollywood Casino is offering a free $25 to new sign-ups but no deposit bonus, Parx is going a more traditional online casino route for promotions. Currently, a player’s first deposit is matched 100%, up to $500 (minimum deposit: $10), with the bonus unlocked via 20x wagering requirement.
Slots pay 100% toward clearing the bonus, roulette 50%, and all other games, including video poker, just 10%. A player has 30 days to complete the bonus.
There are plenty of deposit options — far more than are offered at Hollywood online or were offered when the Pennsylvania sports betting sites launched:
- Credit/debit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover)
- Parx Play+ Prepaid Card
- Online Bank Transfer
- Cash at the cage