Pennsylvania Reopens Application Period For Online Casino Licenses

January 3, 2023
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The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has reopened a two-month window for gaming companies primarily operating in other states to submit applications for internet gaming licences that are not tied to a land-based casino.

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The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has reopened a two-month window for gaming companies primarily operating in other states to submit applications for internet gaming licences that are not tied to a land-based casino.

The period to petition the control board begins on Tuesday (January 3) and runs through March 3, 2023.

There are a total of 12 remaining certificates in Pennsylvania, each costing $4m. The PGCB lists three certificates available for internet slots, three for online table games and six remaining for online poker platforms.

Essentially, these licenses give operators the ability to offer casino games under their own license, as opposed to operating under an online skin from a land-based casino license holder.

This is the PGCB’s second time making iGaming certificates available to those companies seeking approval to be a Qualified Gaming Entity (QGE), which under the Gaming Expansion Act of 2017 can obtain access to the Pennsylvania online market without any connection to a casino.

In 2018, the PGCB approved Golden Nugget Casino’s application, but the company, which paid $8m to offer slots and table games online, is still in the process of getting fully permitted.

As of Tuesday (January 3), it remains unclear when the licensing process will be completed since the acquisition of its parent company, Golden Nugget Online Gaming, for $1.6bn by DraftKings in May 2022.

DraftKings’ integration of Golden Nugget’s platform is expected to be completed in the second half of the year.

BetMGM also applied in January 2019 as a QGE but eventually reached a deal with Hollywood Casino Morgantown, owned by PENN Entertainment, to offer online casino games and sports betting as a skin of the casino.

The Gaming Expansion Act of 2017 allowed Pennsylvania’s 13 licensed racetracks, standalone casinos and resort casinos to apply for and obtain the 39 available interactive gaming certificates, with 13 each for each category of online gaming.

According to the PGCB’s annual report for fiscal year 2021-2022, iGaming revenue reached $1.2bn, an increase of 37 percent from the previous fiscal year total of $897m. This generated $861m in tax revenue during the fiscal year.

Three new iGaming sites launched during the 2021-22 fiscal year, with Betway offering online slots and table games through the Live! Casino Philadelphia license, PointsBet became the third operator partnered with Hollywood Casino, joining BetMGM and Barstool, and the Caesars Entertainment brand World Series of Poker (WSOP) began offering games through Harrah’s Philadelphia.

These additions brought the number of total iGaming sites in Pennsylvania to 19. The PGCB mentioned in its 40-page annual report that it “will be working on the launch of up to ten additional online sites to offer casino-type games” in the next 12 months.

As the iGaming market continues to mature in Pennsylvania, regulators have placed an emphasis on the safety of player accounts and required all licenses to introduce two-factor authentication (2FA) as a mandatory enhanced security method by Saturday (December 31).

Two-factor or multi-factor authentication requires a user to enter their username and a password. Instead of immediately gaining access to their account, they will then be required to provide another piece of information, such as a personal identification number, a code sent to their mobile device, or answers to “secret questions.”

The PGCB issued new industry guidance on July 1, 2022 giving online licensees six months to implement the necessary changes at each login to a player’s account. Pennsylvania joined New Jersey and Ontario as online gaming markets that require two-factor authentication as a security procedure.

A Kindred Group spokeswoman confirmed that 2FA or multi-factor authentication was implemented and released on December 13 by its subsidiary Unibet in Pennsylvania. Messages left with FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM were not returned.

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