Valley Forge Casino Resort is a small hotel resort and casino near King of Prussia. It was the first, and until Lady Luck Nemacolin came along, the only, Category 3 casino in the state. It may soon become the only Category 3 casino in PA to offer online gambling.
Early in the fight to establish online gaming in the state there were musings that iGaming powerhouse bwin.Party (since acquired by GVC Holdings) had partnered with a small Pennsylvania casino, with Valley Forge as the most likely suspect. If true it would have meant a much greater likelihood of a large and ambitious Valley Forge Online, with the online partner giving it a strong head-start thanks to its already well-developed software.
However a deal with GVC never materialized, and later Valley Forge announced a partnership with IGT for both their online casino and poker sites. In mid-July the operator applied for the full three-prong credentials during the initial window, which were approved in October 2018. The operator has also made a relationship with FanDuel to run both its new online and brick-and-mortar sportsbooks.
Last year the resort was acquired by the Boyd Gaming Corporation, which expressed confidence in the growth potential of the property. Boyd does not yet own any online gambling operations, though it was formerly a partial owner of The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, which itself runs an online casino and a poker room (partnered with Party). Valley Forge is an ideal choice for Boyd’s foray into the iGaming arena.
What kind of bonuses could Valley Forge Online Casino offer?
Most online casinos offer welcome packages to new players on signup that convey one or two common perks- a small no-deposit bonus and/or a percentage-based first deposit match.
While Valley Forge could potentially choose to be as generous as any major competitor, there is a greater likelihood it would err on the lower end on the spectrum. If the rumored Party connection is true then Valley Forge Online would be unlikely to go further than the $25 startup bonus that Party offers in NJ. And if those rumors are false, then the site would likewise be inclined toward a conservative welcome package while still establishing itself.
There are also concerns that welcome bonuses in general may be less valuable in Pennsylvania than in other markets. Typically, sites offer a 100% match up a certain monetary value (up to $2,500) on first-deposits. However, in order to unlock the bonus, players must wager it a certain number of times first. This is what’s known as the wagering requirement.
Clearing a bonus is almost always done fastest through slot machines as most other games have a higher multiplier requirement. For instance, it isn’t unheard of for a bonus to clear after wagering it 5x on slots or 25x on other games.
However, Pennsylvania’s online slots could be set at a much lower than usual RTP as a consequence of the state charging the online casinos a 54% tax rate for slots. What this means is that while slots will still be the fastest way to clear a bonus, they may not be the best.
What advantages are there for Valley Forge Online Casino?
- Resort network tie-ins: Prior to the acquisition by Boyd, the only real-world advantage the site could have offered would be promotional stays in King of Prussia. But now that it will be a part of a family of resorts the options for rewards and promotions is greatly expanded.
- A more level playing field: While Valley Forge is a smaller casino its online presence could easily wind up as impressive as other Pennsylvania properties. Limitations on the number of games do not function the same way in a virtual setting, giving Valley Forge the potential to compete on even terms with its rivals.
On which platforms would Valley Forge be available?
Online casinos need to have multiple options to access their games and account features on different devices. It is typical to offer one experience on a computer and another on mobile phones and tablets.
It’s least possible that Valley Forge Online will be available as a desktop app, but it will definitely be available as a browser-based application, accessible via most popular web browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Edge). Most modern operators are opting for web browser version only iterations of their online casino software.
When online casinos began mobile options were very limited, but the technology has developed quickly with a few major software companies providing many popular games. By the time Valley Forge Online launches there is no reason it shouldn’t have prepared mobile clients for both Android and IOS devices.
Portability allows frequent players to maintain access to most of their preferred slots and even a few table games from anywhere in Pennsylvania, and assures the ability to take advantage of a limited time promotion when not at a computer.
Game selection at Valley Forge Online Casino
Valley Forge would be wise to launch with as large a game library as possible in order to compete for market share in ways it is not able to in the real world. However, even if the site starts out with a small selection it can prove to be very profitable. All it takes is a strong foundation of the most important games.
Slots at Valley Forge
Even with online slots being taxed at 54% they will likely prove to be the dominating theater of online activity. Slot software has become easy to acquire, and even small sites in small markets offer hundreds of options.
Likely popular staples usually include:
- 88 Fortunes
- DaVinci Diamonds
- Wolf Run
Progressive jackpot slots are also necessary, but some sites manage to be popular despite having only a single one of these. The most popular option in neighboring New Jersey appears to be Divine Fortune.
Blackjack games at Valley Forge
Blackjack has some convenient advantages in an online setting, as there is always an available seat at the table and there is not risk of another player messing up your cards (though multiplayer options sometimes exist if that is desired.)
Larger sites will sometimes have their own exclusive Blackjack games developed, but Valley Forge only needs a few choices with a small variety of options. IGT will automatically supply several good games, which is not to say that NetEnt Blackjack won’t also be present, so players should have their preference of house rules. Perhaps one offering with side-bet options may also be included: while statistically unwise these versions have their fans.
Roulette games at Valley Forge
At least one or two good roulette games will suffice, though there are certainly ambitious sites that offer many more. Usually these are of the American roulette variety, with the more favorable European wheels less common, but certainly present.
Other table games at Valley Forge
Additional table games are not always in abundance at online sites, but there are a few popular options Valley Forge could include:
- Pai Gow Poker
- Let It Ride
- No-commission Baccarat
Video poker games at Valley Forge
Video poker is a basic necessity of a good online casino, but Valley Forge won’t have to go too far to have an adequate offering. All that will be necessary will be the most popular standard Game King options:
- Jacks or Better
- Bonus Poker
- Double Bonus Poker
- Double Double Bonus Poker
- Deuces Wild
Single- and multi-line games will likely be available, although it’s less certain if one-offs like Ultimate X and Dream Card will make an appearance.
Video poker games are also subject to a high tax rate, so we are somewhat concerned that the paytables will be less than ideal.
What about Live Dealer?
Live Dealer games are not yet common at legal US online casinos, and only two sites in neighboring New Jersey currently offer them (Golden Nugget and their partner Betfair). Valley Forge is very unlikely to have this option early on, even if the idea could give them a significant advantage in the market.
Will Valley Forge Online Casino have a loyalty program?
All competitive online casinos offer a decent rewards program, but until recently the expectations for Valley Forge would have been particularly weak. Prior to the gaming expansion, Category 3 casinos were forced to require non-guests of the hotel to pay for a membership simply to access the games. That has now changed, but even still the resort’s Valley Club program is less than noteworthy. It offers two meager tier levels:
- Basic membership: which offers some freeplay and bonus promotions based on activity.
- The Elite level: which improves on these, and adds VIP hotel amenities and room upgrades. Reaching this level requires 1,000 loyalty points earned in the calendar year.
However, since being acquired by Boyd Gaming it has become possible that the existing Valley Club could be replaced with the B-Connected program shared by other Boyd locations. This program is structured better for an online casino, with three tiers (Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald) and rewards that can be earned and redeemed at multiple real world resorts.
Banking options at a Valley Forge site
Payment methods have evolved at most online casinos, and it is common for most to offer the full range of current deposit options:
- VIP Preferred transfer (recently replacing traditional ACH eChecks)
- MasterCard/Visa credit/debit card
- Online Bill Pay
- A casino-branded prepaid card option
- 7-Eleven PayWithCash
- NETELLER and/or Skrill
- Cash at the cashier’s cage of the local casino partner.
Withdrawal options are often limited to the appropriate choices from above only after those methods have first been used to deposit, but there is also usually the option to request a paper check by mail.
Customer service at Valley Forge Casino
Valley Forge Online Casino will likely offer all the standard customer service options as other existing online gaming sites. 24/7 access to a real representative is key, although a good online Help section with a thorough FAQ document should also be available through the website and any mobile apps.
Typical options for reaching help should be:
- Live Chat
More about the brick and mortar Valley Forge Casino Resort
The Resort Casino opened in 2012 after a protracted legal battle with Parx. The larger competitor attempted to block Valley Forge’s licensure for nearly three years to keep it out of the market, until the courts finally sided with Valley Forge allowed the casino to open.
Valley Forge Casino now boasts a small but respectable 600 slot machines and 50 table games (the previous maximum amount allowed for a Category 3, although the recent gaming expansion legislation will allow this selection to grow further). The casino also has the option to add 15 tables for poker tournaments, which it has not yet exercised. Also, FanDuel has been brought in to develop the new sports betting operation which Valley Forge hopes to open by the end of Q1 2019. FanDuel was granted a conditional license by the state board in early March.
As a Category 3 operation Valley Forge is allowed to operate a hotel on its premises as opposed to elsewhere on its property (the only small advantage for the category, other than a much reduced licensing fee). The resort boasts two such hotels, the Casino Tower and a Radisson, as well as the Valley Forge Convention Center.
As King of Prussia is very near to Philadelphia, Valley Forge competes directly with Harrah’s, Parx, and SugarHouse. It is the only Category 3 casino in the area, and as such it significantly smaller than these others.
Valley Forge is not the most impressive casino in the Keystone State, but it still has a chance to launch with a formidable online presence. The casino’s new relationship to Boyd as well as the partnerships with IGT and FanDuel demonstrate strong potential.
If Valley Forge Online wishes to be a major player in the online Pennsylvania market it will need to strike decisively and quickly. Boyd appears willing to sink a great deal of money into renovating and expanding the brick and mortar property, so it should be even easier to do so for a website as well (if it is truly interested).
Otherwise, the site may wind up late to the market or underdeveloped, leaving it stuck for the foreseeable future as a lesser option. The opportunity to climb the ranks will be very difficult to recreate, but even then it will still generate worthwhile revenue.
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