While the online gambling industry is quite some time away from going live in the Keystone State, several PA casinos have already cemented relationships with iGaming software providers. At this early stage, however, only a few of these relationships have been confirmed publicly. Behind the scenes, the state’s brick-and-mortar casinos, along with global gambling developers, are still weighing whether to participate in the industry at all, especially in light of the hefty licensing fees and taxes involved.
But while their final plans have yet to be hashed out, it’s a safe bet that many of the same software providers currently operating in New Jersey will also expand into the Commonwealth. Here’s a look at a few of the developers we believe will eventually set up shop in PA and who their partners might be.
Which software brands will come along for the ride
GAN touts itself as the leading supplier of iGaming software solutions to the US land-based casino industry. The UK-based company was launched in 2002 as GameAccount Network and has won several awards, including eGaming Review’s Platform of the Year award in 2015 and 2016 for its flagship GameSTACK software product.
In New Jersey, the company’s platform powers Betfair Casino, one of the top grossing online gaming sites in the state. GAN’s success in NJ and its wide network of partners in the US online and brick-and-mortar industries make it very likely that it will seek to expand into Pennsylvania.
GVC is the parent company of online poker giant Party Poker, which it acquired in 2016. Party Poker was a pioneer in the online poker industry, but decided to pull out of the US after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was passed in 2006.
In 2013, Party reentered the market through a partnership with Atlantic City’s Borgata, for which it provides poker and casino software. Party Poker also has its own branded online casino and poker room in the state, and powers playMGM, another Borgata licensed site.
GVC, which runs one of the four online poker networks currently in operation in New Jersey, could vastly boost its player pool through additional PA poker sites, should a compact to share player pools with other states be agreed to.
GameSys is a well-known software provider in the UK and the developer of popular NJ jackpot slot games like Wonderland and Deal or No Deal. In the Garden State, the company provides the software for both Tropicana Casino and Virgin Casino. While GameSys has made no public statements about any potential agreements in PA, it would not be a surprise to see the company offer its platform to one or more of the Commonwealth’s 12 casinos.
888 already has a huge footprint in US online gambling. In Nevada, its software powers the WSOP.com online poker room, and does the same in Delaware for three of the state’s racinos. In NJ, the company offers its own branded online casino and poker room through an agreement with Caesars Interactive Entertainment, while at the same time providing the platform for Harrah’s Casino, Caesars Casino and WSOP NJ.
888 has built up a poker software infrastructure which it hopes to use to link up legal online poker sites in states which have legalized the industry. In Pennsylvania, the company has already confirmed a partnership with Mount Airy Casino Resort and will likely provide the platform for Harrah’s Philadelphia as well. The influx of PA poker players into 888’s interstate poker system could be a huge boon to the company’s growing US-based online cardroom network.
Pala Interactive is the online gaming arm of the Pala Band of Mission Indians, a federally recognized California-based tribe. The company offers its own online casino and poker room in New Jersey through a partnership with Borgata, both of which are powered by its own proprietary gaming software.
There is little chance that the company’s nascent NJ poker room will survive without connecting player pools with casinos in other states. So while Pala has not confirmed that it will seek to enter the PA market, such a move would clearly make sense given the time and money it has spent developing its own in-house iGaming platform.
Rush Street Interactive
Rush Street Interactive software was created by the company behind SugarHouse and Rivers Casinos. SugarHouse is partnered with Golden Nugget in New Jersey, and has, in a short period of time, become one of the state’s most successful operators.
It’s a near certainty that both SugarHouse and Rivers will offer their own online casinos in PA, powered by the Rush Street Interactive software.
Las Vegas-based NYX Gaming is one of the world’s premium online gambling software providers. Three online casinos in New Jersey — Golden Nugget, Resorts and Mohegan Sun — have deployed NYX’s Open Platform System, which allows them to offer some of the largest game libraries in the state.
It would be natural that NYX continue its partnership in Pennsylvania with Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, while potentially also providing its platform to other state casinos.
PokerStars was once the largest poker site in the US, but was forced out of the country after the DOJ’s Black Friday operation in 2011. Since then, the site has fought tooth and nail to return to the US and rebuild its poker empire inside the legal US market.
Yet due to New Jersey’s small-market cap, and the fact that it is not allowed in Nevada due to a bad actor provision, the site has not yet flourished in the US as it had hoped.
That could change if a poker compact is agreed upon by New Jersey and PA, a very likely possibility. PokerStars CEO, Rafi Ashkenazi, recently confirmed in an earnings call that the site will enthusiastically seek a license in the Keystone State, and hopes to be one of the first online poker sites to open up shop there.
Stars, which is the online poker leader in New Jersey, would gain access to a population of nearly 13 million through its operation in the Commonwealth. A partnership with Parx or Rivers, casinos known for poker, would likely propel the brand to the top of that state as well, and possibly revitalize its NJ network in the process.