Bally’s Casino Soft Launches In Pennsylvania, Full Launch Imminent

Written By J.R. Duren on June 8, 2023 - Last Updated on February 8, 2024
Woman Makes Hush Gesture with Bally's Casino Logo representing a soft launch of the app

Bally’s Casino has snuck into the Pennsylvania online casino market with a stealthy soft launch this week.

According to reports from PlayPennsylvania, Bally’s sent out an email to certain users this week notifying them that they had early access to Bally’s Pennsylvania iGaming.

The soft launch has ended, leaving Pennsylvania online casino players waiting for a full Bally’s online casino full launch.

Looking back on Bally’s road to Pennsylvania online casinos

Bally’s applied for a qualified gaming entity (QGE) license back in January when the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board opened up QGE licenses. Then, in March, news broke that the PGCB approved Bally’s application, making the online casino the first QGE entity in the market.

The QGE license allows Bally’s to operate an online casino in the state without having to go through a Pennsylvania brick-and-mortar casino. This was a key development for Bally’s, which was simultaneously trying to break ground on a mini-casino near the campus of Penn State University.

However, local opposition to the casino is fierce, such that the casino is mired in a court case. Had the company waited until its land-based casino was open before applying for an online gambling license, it would still be waiting for a launch.

The QGE move was a smart one, all things considered.

Where Bally’s Casino stands in the Pennsylvania online gambling market

Pennsylvania is one of only six states that allows online casinos. As such, the market is flooded with operators looking to grab a chunk of the state’s considerable iGaming revenue. Pennsylvania regularly breaks the national record for online casino revenue.

For example, going back to October 2022, the Keystone State has broken the national revenue record four times. Pennsylvania’s March revenue total of $181.5 million is the single most profitable month of online gambling in the country’s history.

From a business perspective, that means there’s plenty of money to go around. At the same time, there are plenty of iGaming sites to go around, too. There are 20 online casinos in Pennsylvania, and all of them are intent on grabbing as much of that record-breaking revenue as they can.

Casinos that entered the market first have a distinct advantage over newcomers like Bally’s:

  • Five casinos have been in the Pennslyvania market since 2019:
    • Hollywood Casino, Parx Casino, PlaySugarHouseCasino, PokerStars, and Unibet
  • Eight have been around since 2020, including big names such as FanDuel, DraftKings Casino, Caesars, and BetMGM
  • The top six online casinos so far this year all debuted in 2020 or 2019

In other words, Bally’s Casino is playing from behind. It will have to come up with creative promos and marketing to bring in new customers, and, in theory, pry them away from heavy hitters like Hollywood Casino, Rivers Philadelphia, and Valley Forge.

Photo by PlayUSA
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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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