Parx Casino was never the biggest fan of online gaming or sports betting, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be heavily involved in both.
Parx, Pennsylvania’s highest-grossing gambling venue, applied for a sports betting license on August 27, 10 days after Penn National became the first PA slot licensee to do so. At the same time, the Greenwood Gaming-owned casino submitted a request to host sports wagering at one of its off-track horse wagering facilities, the South Philadelphia Turf Club.
During a meeting of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) on October 3, the applications of both Parx and the Turf Club were approved, allowing them to continue the process of working towards opening up physical and online sportsbooks in Pennsylvania.
To make its sportsbook offerings a reality, Parx will team up with software provider GAN, which it has also tapped to power its online casino product. While GAN has plenty of experience operating successful iGaming sites (e.g. Betfair Casino in New Jersey) it has linked up with sports software makers SBTech and Kambi to round out its suite.
What advantages will Parx have in the sportsbook market
- Brand recognition/marketing: Parx is the casino market leader in PA, generating upwards of $566 million in slots and table game revenue last year. When Pennsylvania sports betting comes to town, the company will be able to rely on its strong brand name, and at the same time have the ability to outspend smaller casinos when it comes to running ads and promos.
- Experienced executive team: Parx’s parent company was founded by a team of former UK sportsbook executives, giving it an advantage over other PA operators who might not have much experience with the vertical.
- Integrated platform: Since Parx has chosen GAN to power not only its online casino, but also it sportsbook, players will likely enjoy a seamless experience when switching between the casino and the book, especially if both sites share a unified player wallet.
Land-based sportsbook at Parx Casino
In a recent presentation to PGCB officials, Parx laid out its vision for both its temporary and land-based sportsbooks. By law, PA casinos are permitted to open temporary books, which will allow them to get up and running quickly as soon as they get the green light from regulators.
Parx isn’t waiting around, though, and has already begun building its permanent facility. Unfortunately, those plans are still under wraps, so we don’t yet have much information on what the finished product will look like.
The temporary book is another story. Company execs are hard at work erecting a temporary sports area, which will be located in Parx’s 360 Lounge. It will tide eager customers over with the following amenities:
- Seven betting windows
- 12 self-service kiosks
- 30 additional kiosks placed throughout the casino
- Multiple large flat screen TVs for comfortable viewing of sporting events
Parx expects to open its temporary book in November, and plans to unveil its permanent offering in the second quarter of 2019.
The South Philadelphia Turf Club will also be getting a land-based book, but will be a secondary focus of its parent company. The off-track parlor will undergo $1 million in renovations, and eventually sport seven betting windows and 13 self-serve kiosks. Lastly, the lower bound of the age limit will be increased from 18 to 21 to satisfy gambling regulators.
Like Parx’s online ventures, the property’s retail sportsbook operations will be powered by GAN.
Online/mobile sports betting with Parx
Parx Casino will be launching a mobile sports betting product, and very likely an online betting website as well. However, mobile betting won’t be available statewide at the start.
The company will first get its temporary book up and running, then offer app-based betting, but only for patrons physically inside the building. Customers will need to connect to the in-house Wi-Fi to place their wagers, and won’t be able to do so once they leave the venue.
Parx’s reasoning for this is that it wants to take advantage of popular in-game betting options as soon as possible, something which is not feasible through physical teller windows.
Parx sportsbook players should be free to make mobile bets anywhere in the state starting sometime in January 2019, if the company hits its development targets.
The casino hasn’t said much about offering a companion sports betting website, but there’s no reason it shouldn’t. Platform provider GAN already plays a part in FanDuel’s online sportsbook in New Jersey, which is available through desktop browsers.
Online sportsbook preview
Based on GAN’s partnerships in New Jersey, we expect to see many or most of the following deposit and withdrawal options available at Parx Online Sportsbook:
- Credit/debit cards
- Parx prepaid cards
- Online banking transfer
- Paper checks
- Cash at the Parx casino cage
Game selection at Parx Online Sportsbook
With the powerful GAN/Kambi/SBTech software integration, we sincerely doubt that gamblers will be left wanting in terms of gambling markets. It’s hard to know exactly how deep down the rabbit hole Parx will go regarding sports verticals, but we are nearly certain that it will offer at least the following, and likely much more:
- Football (college and NFL)
Welcome packages and promotions
One of the most enticing promotions offered by online sportsbooks (and online casinos) are welcome bonuses. These can come in several flavors:
- Deposit match bonuses: The book matches your deposit by a certain percentage up to a maximum amount.
- No deposit bonuses: The house gives players a small amount of real money to make bets with, simply for creating an account. No deposit is needed, but to cash out the patron must satisfy a wager requirement.
- Free bets: The book gives players credit to make a free bet, or a series of free bets. Usually gamblers may only keep the winnings produced from these bets, not the original credit.
Operators can get creative with promotions, offering many other ways for players who already hold accounts to get ahead. Be on the lookout for promos like discounted juice, Odds Boosts and cash refunds.
How did Parx arrive at sports betting
Parx was the first PA casino to plunk down the eight-figure fee to offer online gambling, the second to buy a PA sports betting license and the fourth to purchase a satellite casino – all at a total cost of $28,111,000.
But while the property has been spending money vigorously on the state’s newly-opened gambling verticals, it wasn’t always a fan of the law that made it all possible.
Back when PA was stuck in hearing hell, with lawmakers discussing the merits of online gambling ad nauseum, Parx Chairman Bob Green told the press that he was skeptical of the role Parx would play if iGaming was regulated in the state.
Once the vertical was legalized, along with sports betting, DFS and satellite casinos last October, the company continued to voice reservations about how it would all be implemented, specifically in regards to the number of sites or “skins” that would be allowed under a license.
Parx argued that skins would erode PA casino brands, and create an environment in which competing would be difficult. Ultimately, Parx’s proposal to limit skins to one per casino licensee fell on (mostly) deaf ears. In fact, the PGCB announced it would allow for unlimited skins — but with a restriction. The Board’s position was that online casino skins must be hosted as a subdomain of the main licensee and must prominently feature its host’s branding.
Either way, Parx was in, buying up the first PA online casino package license for $10 million in July.
The property had a little more luck in its fight against skins when it came to sports betting. Again, it lobbied the PGCB to restrict the vehicle, but this time it got a better result. In temporary regulations released soon after, the Board declared that physical sportsbook licensees could host just one skin each.
Parx sportsbook outlook
Parx may have been hesitant to get involved with expanded gambling, but now that the post-PASPA era has arrived, it’s not going to be left behind. We expect Parx to become a big player in the PA sportsbook universe, offering both an impressive physical book along with a full-featured desktop website and mobile app.
And while Parx may not be located as close to the state’s sports epicenter as competitor SugarHouse, or the upcoming Live! Casino, you can be sure that the Commonwealth’s casino market-leader will do what it takes to maintain its position.
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