Three More Casinos Get Approval For PA Sports Betting, With Rivers And SugarHouse Eyeing December 1 Launch

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The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) met today to discuss a variety of topics, including the approval of several sports betting petitions.

During the meeting, Harrah’s Casino, Rivers, and SugarHouse were all approved to open both live and online sportsbooks in the state.

Beforehand, executives from each company gave presentations to the board, offering more details of their respective sports wagering offerings.

Harrah’s focuses on land-based

Officials from Chester Downs and Marina, otherwise known as Harrah’s, were first to make their case to the board.

The casino was the third to petition the PGCB for a sports betting license in the state, going public with its plans on September 24. The move came as no surprise, considering that Caesars, Harrah’s parent company, already offers both online and live sportsbooks in New Jersey, along with sports wagering at properties in Mississippi and Nevada.

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During the presentation, execs gave a revealing glimpse of what their PA sportsbook will entail. The facility will encompass a 4,332-square-foot space and will include:

  • An odds board
  • 40 flatscreen TVs
  • Six teller windows
  • Betting kiosks
  • Two horseracing terminals
  • Stadium-style seating
  • Television packages featuring a huge number of games
  • An adjacent table games pit

The casino has teamed up with iGaming software provider Scientific Games to power both its land-based and online sports betting offerings. However, during the meeting, the company made little mention of its online betting plans, leaving us in the dark for now.

Harrah’s sportsbook rendering

Rivers Casino

Rivers Casino, owned by Rush Street Gaming, was next on the docket. During its presentation, execs revealed that the company is building a temporary sportsbook on the south gaming floor, which will include an on-site sportsbook, cashier windows, and self-service kiosks. They expect to open that space to the public around December 1, subject to PGCB approval.

Rivers’ permanent sportsbook will be located on the central gaming floor, where the current Levels Lounge is situated. The book will be ready to debut sometime in early 2019, and will launch alongside the company’s internet offering.

For online/mobile app betting, Rivers will use its own home-grown software integrated with the Kambi sports-focused platform.

Kambi, which already powers the Play SugarHouse sportsbook in New Jersey (also owned by Rush Street Gaming), is becoming a major player in U.S. sports betting. In fact, the company had its best quarter ever recently, beating its year-over-year revenue by nearly 40% in Q3 of 2018.

Rivers will offer a full slate of betting options on nearly two dozen sports and leagues, for starters.

Rivers Casino temporary sportsbook rendering

SugarHouse Casino

SugarHouse, another Rush Street Gaming-owned property, applied for its $10 million sports betting license on September 26 and was approved today.

The property will launch its temporary sportsbook near the north entrance across from the poker room. The space, which is already under construction, will feature an on-site book, sports cashiers, and self-service kiosks, and will open around December 1.

Its permanent location will be set on the central gaming floor and will replace the current Lucky Red Lounge.

Like its sister casino, Rivers, SugarHouse hopes to launch its online/mobile offering alongside its permanent sportsbook. It anticipates debuting both in spring of 2019.

SugarHouse Casino temporary sportsbook rendering

Five down, eight to go

To date, only five of PA’s 13 eligible casinos have applied for sports betting license:

This is due to the eye watering $10 million required startup fee and staggering 36% tax on sports betting revenue. The oppressive structure has given pause to many operators who might have quickly applied were it not for the high fees.

Several other casinos will likely come along, especially Presque Isle Downs, which gave a hint of its plans during the hearing today.

The casino, which was purchased by Churchill Downs, revealed today that it would use the SBTech platform to power its online casino. In a slide, it also mentioned that SBTech, along with its BetAmerica platforms, would be able to easily integrate sports betting, should the property receive or request a license. We expect that it will apply soon, if it has not already.

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Bill Grinstead

Bill has over a decade of experience working in diverse aspects of the online gambling space. He is currently focused on legal, US online gaming, which he has reported on since the industry first became regulated in the country.

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