Lawmakers in the Keystone State passed legislation authorizing online gambling in October 2017. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced this year existing PA casinos could begin applying for online gambling licenses beginning April 16. The board also said week it would begin accepting applications for interactive gaming platforms, the software providers for the sites, on June 4.
Regulations related to PA online casinos and online poker were also rolled out by the gaming board in March. However, language addressing whether or not there will be a limit on the number of online gambling websites licensees can launch was missing. The different online gambling websites operating under a single license holder are usually referred to as skins.
Bigger skin limits, more revenue
New Jersey limits the number of skins allowed to operate under a single online gambling licensee to five. However, experts say larger limits like this have helped maximize operator and state revenue from online gambling.
Two of Pennsylvania’s largest casino organizations, Parx Casino and Racing and Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, told the board they wanted to see a limit of just one skin per licensee. Apparently, the casinos felt a limit on skins in PA could help prevent the new online gambling sector from cannibalizing the existing land-based casino industry.
However, most experts agree allowing multiple skins is good for the entire industry. Plus, it can only help revenue growth across the board. Evidence from New Jersey clearly shows that is the case.
Additionally, two PA lawmakers, Reps. Rosita Youngblood and Jason Ortitay, recently came out claiming legislators never had any intention of placing a limit on skins.
No limit on skins
This week, the gaming board today approved another set of temporary rules and regulations that address the issue of skins. According to a press release, there will be no limit:
“What the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board did at its public meeting of April 4, 2018 was to approve temporary regulations that enable a very open and competitive market for internet gaming while at the same time assuring transparency and accountability for the consumers. Under these temporary regulations there is no limitation on the number of skins that a slot machine licensee may employ to deliver games, but every “skin” that a casino offers must be branded in a manner that makes it clear that it is offered on behalf of the slot machine licensee consistent with language of the act.”
This indicates there will be no limits on skins. Plus, it says the only strict regulation is all skins must clearly identify the license it is operating under. It allows operators and software providers to apply for licenses knowing exactly what they can do with them.
Operator licenses for real money online slots, table games, and poker will cost $10 million for all three. Or, $4 million separately. The interactive gaming platform licenses come with a $1 million licensing fee attached.
The application process begins soon but will take several months to complete. Therefore, the first online gambling sites in PA won’t likely open until at least the fourth quarter of 2018.