This marks the first piece of significant news for Pennsylvania online gambling proponents since HB 271 — a bill legalizing iGaming and a host of other expanded gambling verticals — was penned into law last October.
Start your engines
Suppliers and manufacturers, which include companies that provide the games and other technologies for online gambling sites, will be able to submit their applications on April 2. The announcement also applies to those who will supply technologies for the imminent rollout of video gaming terminals (VGTs) at truck stops.
According to the release, “the acceptance date for iGaming Operators (Platform Providers) will be announced at a later date.” Presumably, this date will fall after April 2, but not too much after.
Also of note, the release reads that “Manufacturers who are currently licensed by the Gaming Control Board may submit an Abbreviated Application for a Video Gaming Manufacturing License.” The core application clocks in at a length 58 pages.
Vendor licenses for online gambling are set at $1 million, whereas a collective iGaming license spanning slots, table games, and poker will put operators back a hefty $10 million.
Picture becoming clearer
Given the recent announcement, we now have a slightly better idea of when online gambling will launch in Pennsylvania, but only slightly.
There are an abundance of additional steps between the time license applications are accepted and the first sites go live.
- The manufacturers and supplier applications must be vetted and approved.
- Regulations governing online gambling must be forged.
- The board must announce when it will begin receiving applications from platform providers and operators. The licensing process for casinos will last at least 120 days, with the first 90 days reserved for the state’s 13 land-based casinos to purchase collective licenses. After 120 days, non-casino entities will be eligible to gobble up any remaining licenses.
- Those applications must be received, vetted, and approved.
For perspective, in New Jersey it took more than two months after the license application deadline for the first casinos to be approved by the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement. The first online gambling sites entered into their trial period roughly seven weeks later, and officially opened several days after that.
Presuming the PGCB announces that it will begin accepting platform provider and iGaming license applications sometime in April (optimistic), the deadline for existing land-based casinos to apply for a license won’t be until August. From that point, it could still be several months before the first wave of regulated sites opens its doors to the masses.
There is some hope that the process from approval to launch will move faster than it did in New Jersey, as the PGCB can lean on the NJ DGE for guidance. Also, it will be easier to streamline some of the processes, including payment processing and geolocation, than it was when the first states legalized online gambling in 2013.
A full rollout doesn’t appear to be likely until mid-to-late fall, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that today’s announcement was a welcome development.