If Pennsylvania is the premier destination for east coast gambling, then Parx Casino is undoubtedly its crown jewel.
The former Philadelphia Park Racetrack and Casino was the beneficiary of 2004 legislation that enabled selected racetracks to become racinos, and later full-fledged casinos. Parx took full advantage, leveraging its desirable location just minutes off I-95 and less than 20 miles from Philadelphia to attract patrons from all four directions.
Factor in Parx’s commitment to providing a Las Vegas like experience on the east coast — the casino houses over 3,400 slots, 180 table games, and numerous high-end restaurants and nightlife facilities — and its little wonder why it quickly became Pennsylvania’s most popular gaming facility.
Appeased with the status quo, Parx was hesitant to support the legalization of online gambling in Pennsylvania. However, since legislation passed Parx has decided to fully embrace the new vertical.
Very late in the licensing window Parx’s operator Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, Inc. became the first property to submit a finalized application to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, sparking a similar reaction from the other casinos. Parx was then one of the first operators approved by the board for their online site on August 15, and approved for their sports betting operation on October 3.
Parx has reported a partnership with software developer GAN plc to power its online casino, and has hired Matthew Cullen to oversee the site as Senior Vice President of Interactive Gaming & Sports. Cullen, the former CEO of San Manuel Digital among other digital gaming credits, is tasked with applying Parx’s recipe for land-based success to its online endeavors.
What kind of bonuses will Parx online casino offer?
Generally speaking, online casinos offer welcome packages that consist of two parts: a free money sign-up offer, and a 100% match up to a certain monetary cap on a player’s first deposit.
The no-deposit bonus is generally a small amount, typically between $10 – $30, and allows players to try an online casino before they buy. The match bonus is typically much larger, sometimes even four-figures, and usually comes affixed with a wagering requirement. For example if a site offers a 100% match up to $1,000, the player will likely be required to gamble the bonus amount 10 – 20x before the bonus clears to their cash wallet.
There is some fear that the welcome packages in Pennsylvania won’t be as lucrative as they are in other markets, due to the oppressive 54% tax rate on online slots. However, given that Parx has money to burn, along with a strong desire to be number one in any new market, we do expect the bonus amounts to tend toward the higher end, and for the wagering requirements to be somewhat player-friendly.
Parx could also explore alternative avenues with its deposit bonus. For instance, some online casinos now favor giving away cash refunds on initial losses, up to a certain amount, as opposed to traditional matches. Tropicana Casino and Virgin Casino in New Jersey have implemented this alternative welcome bonus to great effect.
What advantages might a Parx-branded online casino have?
- Strong partnerships: Parx will likely take its iGaming partnerships very seriously, teaming up with a software provider with experience and success in the New Jersey market. As previously suspected that provider is GAN plc, which has powered Parx’s social casino since 2015, and provides the platform for Betfair Casino in New Jersey. It has been noted that “Parx Casino will rely exclusively on GameAccount Network’s Internet gaming system, deployed on-property in Pennsylvania, for all forms of real money Internet gaming.”
- Cross-promotional tie-ins: More than anything, Parx wants to ensure that online gambling doesn’t detract from its brick and mortar business. The casino even went as far to suggest that in-person registration for online sites be required (a caveat that didn’t make the cut). Given this, expect Parx to heavily promote its land-based casino online, offering players numerous incentives to leave their laptops behind and come to the outskirts of Philadelphia.
- Games, games, games: As Parx will now officially use GAN for its platform, this opens the door for it to support swarms of slot and table gaming titles, many of which may be exclusive to the site. And given Parx’s aggressiveness, it wouldn’t surprise for alternative formats, such as Live Dealer and Virtual Sports, to find a home on the site. Now that sports-betting legislation is a possibility, this will also be an area for Parx to explore.
Not to mention, Parx’s license application will allow it to also offer online poker, which Parx is a prime candidate to take advantage of. Their brick-and-mortar casino currently supports the largest and most profitable poker room in Keystone State. Whether that means we’ll see a branded Parx online poker room or a partnership with another industry player (much like Mount Airy is believed partnered with PokerStars) remains an open question, but it’s almost a definite that Parx will get heavily involved in poker.
What platforms will an online casino by Parx be available for?
An online casino site is only as good as its platform. Parx knows this, so has chosen its software provider GAN and its top-level executives based on their myriad experience with online sites.
If legal online casino sites in New Jersey are any indicator (and they should be), Parx will support a browser-based version of its software. It will be chock full of all the features online gamblers have come to expect from casino sites, including a healthy number of slot, video poker, and table gaming titles, a full cashier, and various other account management features.
Likely, it will be compatible with all updated and modern browsers, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari for Mac.
It’s plausible that a downloadable version of the software will be available, but we’ve only seen a couple of NJ-based take this route and mostly in the earlier days of the market. Also of note, the GAN-powered Betfair Casino is not one of them.
Mobile online gambling has come a long way since neighboring New Jersey first went live with its industry in 2013. What was then an afterthought has become an integral part of the market, with mobile apps now supporting hundreds of games and providing many, if not all, the account management features found on desktop clients.
Parx is pretty much certain to launch with a strong mobile app for both iOS and Android powered devices, as they have already had their play-money casino available on both these platforms. Down the road they could even enable a Java-based browser version of the casino app, which would require no download.
In order to gain a leg up in the market, we suspect that the Parx casino app must support at least 100 slot and table game titles at launch, as well as a full cashier, and access to promotions and loyalty program details.
Game selection at Parx online casino
Expect an assortment of titles at launch, across a variety of formats. Staples of modern online casino lobbies include slots, table games, video poker, and increasingly, Live Dealer and other alternative formats.
Slots at Parx Online
54% tax rate or not, slots stand to dominate the Parx online casino lobby, with multiple providers offering their titles. The average NJ online casino has seen slot collections balloon into the 400 range, and it wouldn’t surprise if Parx launched with at least half this number, quickly expanding as it forges more partnerships with providers.
Penny slots will dominate the show, with a few slots offering progressive jackpots. Expect a mix of land-based casino favorites and innovative online only slots that incorporate the latest and greatest technology. Titles may include:
- Divine Fortune (jackpot slot)
- Merlin’s Millions
- 88 Fortunes
- China Shores
- Gorilla Go Wild
- Raging Rhino
- Davinci Diamonds
Blackjack at Parx online casino
Blackjack is a staple of every online casino, and Parx Online will prove no exception. And we’re not talking just one blackjack variant either. Expect a full rollout with at least one single deck game, at least a smattering of multi-hand games, games with side bets, and microstakes games where the player can grind it out for less than $1 per hand.
Good news is the rule sets for blackjack at Parx’s land-based casino are very favorable to the player, so we’re expecting them to be somewhat comparable online.
Roulette games featured at Parx
Multiple single-zero (European) and double-zero (American) games will populate the lobby, as well as a few roulette games that cannot be spread at brick and mortar casinos, including:
- 3 Wheel Roulette
- Double Bonus Spin Roulette
Other table games
Based on what we’ve seen at GAN-powered casinos, it’s likely Parx Online will feature at least several of these games:
- No Commission Baccarat
- EZ Baccarat
- Three Card Poker
- Let it Ride
- Pai Gow Poker
- Hi-Lo Solitaire
Parx casino online: video poker
What would an online casino be without the ability to hold three Aces, in hopes for a fourth? Not much, which is why Parx will undoubtedly support a host of video poker titles. Granted, we are a bit concerned about the payout tables, as operator’s may depend on players to eat some of the operational costs. But hopefully there’s at least a few Game King tables that return over 99%, including:
- Jacks or Better
- Bonus Poker
- Double Bonus Poker
- Double Double Bonus Poker
- Deuces Wild
Live Dealer games at Parx Online in PA
Live Dealer has become something of a phenomenon in the New Jersey market, with both industry frontrunners Golden Nugget Casino and Betfair Casino having adopted the format. If anyone is going to want to push Live Dealer, it’s Parx.
Reason being, Live Dealer is a way to ease its land-based players into gambling online. The opposite holds true as well, as what better way is there to entice online-only players to Parx, then to provide them with a glimpse of the facilities?
If Parx does support Live Dealer, expect it to run the following games, at first on limited hours, but eventually around the clock:
- Blackjack: Expect multiple tables and at least 1-2 side bets. The Bet Behind feature, that allows railbirds to bet on other players’ hands, may also be an option.
- Roulette: Most likely, the roulette wheel will feature two zeroes, making it a suboptimal game. But at least players won’t have to jump over each other to place bets.
- Baccarat: This game is particularly popular in PA, and with Live Dealer Baccarat, Parx can service a theoretically infinite number of players at one table.
- Casino Hold’em: Carnival game that debuted in New Jersey in late 2017. Like poker, but without the bluffing. Generally can be played on the cheap ($1 minimum) at Live Dealer tables.
- Big Wheel: There’s probably no easier intro point to gambling than the Big Wheel. Just place a wager on a number and hope it comes up. Higher number values are more difficult to hit but pay out better. Beware the high house edge.
Will Parx’s PA gambling site have a loyalty program?
The land-based Parx supports a robust, lucrative, and multi-tiered loyalty program, and we expect that its online counterpart will roll out something along similar lines. It may look something like this:
- Players level: Baseline tier where players enjoy free slot play, cash back on wagers, access to promotions, and partner deals with Parx Casino and its affiliates
- Premium level: All of the above plus private invite-only events, free or discounted access to amenities at Parx Casino, and slot club point multipliers
- Elite level: VIP treatment will include luxury gifts, priority seating at restaurants and events at Parx Casino, special promotional invites, and the best slot club rate
Of course this is just speculation, but if Parx treats its online customers half as well as its land-based patrons, then players won’t have much to complain about.
Banking options at Parx gambling sites
Payment processing has come a long way since the first legal US online gambling sites flipped over the open sign in 2013. At launch, expect Parx Online to host a variety of depositing options, many of which will be accessible for withdrawals as well.
- ACH (e-Check)
- MasterCard/Visa credit/debit card
- Online banking transfers
- Casino prepaid card option
- 7-Eleven PayWithCash
- Cash at the Parx Casino cage
Customer service at Parx Online
Parx online casino will likely have exceptional customer service, with agents based in the state of Pennsylvania. Patrons will access representatives via the following means:
- Live chat
Phone and email service should be available around the clock, but Live Chat may only be accessible during a specific timeframe.
More about Parx Casino
Since 2010, when the first table games went live, Parx Casino has been a full-service gaming venue, offering slots, table games, horse racing, nightlife options, and restaurants. The one facet of most east casinos that it doesn’t offer is a hotel.
Of the state’s 12 land-based casino, Parx generates the most revenue, nipping out closest competitor Sands Bethlehem. In 2016 alone, it took in over $535 million in gross gaming revenue, good for a 16.7% market share.
The casino floor features over 3,400 slots and 124 table games, which doesn’t include a brand new 48 table poker room. The new poker room, clearly inspired by the Borgata’s in Atlantic City, is built into the main casino — previously it was in a separate building, Parx East.
As far as entertainment options, Parx has rolled out the XCite Center, a full-sized concert venue featuring a variety of top-flight musical talent and guests from the world of comedy. Other options include the 360 entertainment bar, the chill Xlounge, Chickie’s and Pete’s sports bar, and Jax sports bar.
Parx boasts seven dining options, ranging from the quick and inexpensive (Foodies and the Earl of Sandwich), to its signature upscale and award winning restaurant, Parxgrill.
Parx brings a wealth of experience to the online gaming arena, having operated a social casino site, in conjunction with GAN plc, since 2015. This made it only natural for GAN to be the provider of choice for Parx’s real-money online casino software. More on known and potential PA iGaming partnerships.
Parx may be a reluctant participant in Pennsylvania’s online gambling industry, but that doesn’t mean it will put out a substandard product — quite the opposite.
Fearful of losing its stranglehold on the Philadelphia casino market, expect Parx to come out firing with a stellar online product, an aggressive promotional schedule, and tons of opportunities for players to earn comps and discounts at its land-based casino.
Will Parx be numero uno in PA? It’s difficult to say, as other nearby casinos could give it a run for its money. That being said, Parx will hardly be a poor choice for PA online casino and poker players, and due to its brand recognition and commitment, may just capture the early market share lead.
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