Last month, we reported on Pennsylvania starting to accept online poker applications in the Springtime. However, this was just a rough estimate as to when things would begin proceeding. Now though, a more specific time period has been given. The Gaming Control Board of Pennsylvania expects to start processing gambling licences for online operators in April.
The Executive Director of the Board, Kevin O’Toole was almost definitive in his statement of the regulatory body accepting applications next month. This does not mean that licences are guaranteed to be approved in April, and it also doesn’t mean that online poker will be available within the state in the next few months. However, it does mean that any poker players within Pennsylvania will see progress towards such possibilities becoming real in the near future. It means that action – and positive action – is being taken towards providing online poker to the community.
The new law that Pennsylvania passed means that the 13 land-based casino establishments within the state are able to apply for online gambling licences. Each operator needs to go through the process of submitting an application to the regulatory body and must also pay a fee of $10 million for the licence. This will then allow it to provide slots, poker, table games and more via the internet. Any casino wishing to offer exactly two or fewer types of gambling can choose the option of a $4 million licence instead.
Since the state is only going to allow land-based casinos to receive a licence, it’s possible that major poker rooms, such as PartyPoker or PokerStars, will seek out a Pennsylvania casino to partner with.
Targets and Possibilities for the Future
Because Pennsylvania currently has 13 land-based casinos, each of these is eligible to apply for an online licence to offer between one and three different forms of online gaming. This means that while each one could apply for and receive a licence to operate online, it’s not likely that it will happen. Smaller casinos with less annual revenue aren’t likely to pay out a $10 million fee to receive a full licence. Even the lesser $4 million fee could be a stretch for them to achieve.
Online poker doesn’t produce as much revenue as what slots or table games do either, if New Jersey figures are anything to go by. The January income from online poker gambling in this state was just 8.8% of the overall total. Therefore, some of the Pennsylvanian casinos may be fairly reluctant to fork out $10 million if online poker isn’t going to be so profitable.
Naturally, until the licence application process comes into effect, gamers within the state won’t know what to expect. However, upon the licences being approved and provided, online players will be able to see which platforms are offering poker and who they’re partnering with to do so. According to O’Toole, the first licences are expected to be approved by the time autumn rolls around. Following on from this, it will be entirely in the hands of the online operators to decide when their sites begin providing games to Pennsylvania’s market.