SugarHouse Is Third To Open In The Pennsylvania Online Casino Race

Written By Grant Lucas on July 17, 2019 - Last Updated on November 26, 2021

Three days in, and already Hollywood and Parx casinos have online competition entering the fold.

The state of Pennsylvania saw its third online casino hit the market Wednesday, courtesy of SugarHouse Casino.

While a few days behind the state’s first online casino, SugarHouse does become the first to make its product available on iOS as well as for Android and desktop.

Yes, Apple users can access SugarHouse

Recall not long ago when Apple updated its App Store Review Guidelines that would affect real-money gaming apps, including online casinos and sports betting apps.

The update required operators to develop a native iOS-based product. Affected apps would be removed from the App Store if they did not come into compliance, and new apps could not become available if they did not receive approval by early September.

As reported by Play Pennsylvania, though, SugarHouse found a solution in order to make its online casino accessible in Apple browsers: by using an app produced by GeoComply, which is listed in the App Store as “GeoGuard Location Validator.” For what it’s worth, GeoComply is a trusted and reputable geolocation company, one used by every online gambling app in New Jersey.

Customers using a browser on an Apple device must log into their SugarHouse accounts, and once they do, they will be presented with a prompt to download the GeoGuard app. The app communicates with SugarHouse (or any online betting app) to confirm a user’s location. Once verified, iOS users will have access to the browser-based version of the online casino or sportsbook.

Hints at SugarHouse launch arose over the weekend

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) confirmed over the weekend that it will begin testing a SugarHouse online casino on Wednesday. Soon after, SugarHouse released a statement regarding its soft launch.

“We thank the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for authorizing us to be a part of history this week in bringing our online sportsbook and casino to gaming enthusiasts in the state of Pennsylvania,” Richard Schwartz, president of SugarHouse ownership Rush Street Interactive, said in the statement.

“We are also proud to become the first gaming operator to offer the same online brand in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey so players who live or work across the border of these states can bet on in either state.”

Doug Harbach, a spokesman from the PGCB, noted that SugarHouse will need just two days of state testing before launching fully to the public.

Shortened testing for SugarHouse Online Casino

Testing periods usually last three days. Harbach said because SugarHouse already underwent testing for its online sportsbook, which went live in May, the PGCB will only need Wednesday and Thursday to test the Rush Street property’s online casino.

From Harbach:

“The amount of test days are determined based on the particular operator. Testing next week for Parx (Mon/Tues) and SugarHouse (Wed/Thurs) are two days since they are already operating online sportsbooks and some of the issues our staff is looking at have been completed. Hollywood Casino (Mon/Tues/Wed) requires three days since this their first foray online.”

As Harbach mentioned, Parx, which soft-launched its online casino Monday, July 15 also only needs two days of testing since it already has a sports betting app operational in Pennsylvania. Hollywood, which officially became the state’s first online casino by soft-launching earlier that day, will need the full three days.

What to play at SugarHouse

Upon soft launch, the SugarHouse online casino offered a limited selection of titles.

In fact, only 22 online casino slots were featured, all of which come from developer NetEnt. Among the title listed:

  • Dead or Alive
  • Fruit Spin
  • Pyramid: Quest for Immortality
  • Reel Rush
  • Starburst
  • Twin Spin Deluxe

While few titles grace the SugarHouse online casino, its New Jersey product at the very least indicates what could arrive in the near future.

There, SugarHouse offers a wide array of games:

  • 539 slots
  • Six blackjack
  • 16 video poker
  • 10 table games

Obviously SugarHouse knows how to diversity its offerings. It will certainly look to do so in Pennsylvania as games receive PGCB approval.

Familiar PlaySugarHouse promo awaits new customers

Online casino players will have access to the same promotion that SugarHouse put out when it launched its online sportsbook.

After signing up, users can visit our bonus page and use the code 250MATCH to receive a 100% match on first deposit up to $250.

Those who took advantage of this promo after the SugarHouse betting app launched will not be able to redeem this promo again.

SugarHouse extends online reach from New Jersey to Pennsylvania

Of course, SugarHouse is already tapped into the online market thanks to its mold-breaking betting app.

Like its operations in New Jersey, however, SugarHouse now adds an online casino to its Pennsylvania portfolio.

Certainly, the PA version looks to emulate how SugarHouse has fared across the border.

Nearby, SugarHouse in New Jersey has helped Golden Nugget, SugarHouse’s land-based partner, continuously break records. In each of the past seven months, Golden Nugget has surpassed $10 million in revenue. And in each of the past four months, it has exceeded $13.5 million. Not once in the previous 61 months has a New Jersey licenseholder reported over $10 million in a month. In fact, no other licenseholder other than Golden Nugget has done so.

SugarHouse NJ has operated in the Garden State since 2016, and it added an online sportsbook in fall 2018, creating a complementary product with a wallet shared by its online casino. That’s just what SugarHouse has done in Pennsylvania, as it looks to create similar success as in New Jersey.

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Get ready for BetRivers rebrand

Yes, the online casino will open as PlaySugarHouse. Soon, however, not even the physical casino will carry the SugarHouse name.

Rush Street already announced its intentions to rebrand the Philadelphia property as Rivers Philadelphia, emphasizing the relationship with its sister property across the state, Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh.

Ownership told the PGCB in June that it planned on swapping out all signage and branding at SugarHouse Casino this summer. But, Rush Street added:

“Our long-term plan is to establish continuity across Rush Street’s PA properties, sportsbooks, iGaming, and guest rewards program.”

Essentially, the PlaySugarHouse online casino will soon undergo a makeover, and come away with the BetRivers branding.

Why a rebrand matters

Two of the biggest players in the Pennsylvania sports betting game are Rush Street properties: SugarHouse and Rivers, both of which have online sportsbooks up and running. (The state only has three betting apps operational.)

Rivers, though, did not chase an interactive gaming license. SugarHouse did. As part of a statement made following Rush Street’s proposed plans to rebrand, CEO Greg Carlin pointed out how establishing a “unified brand” is Rush Street’s way of “anticipating and responding to the competitive market for gaming.”

Using the SugarHouse license, Rush Street enters the online casino market. By rebranding that sister site – and the mobile platform – with the Rivers name, ownership effectively dodges extra marketing dollars and high tax rates. Rather than needing to back two separate brands (Rivers and SugarHouse), Rush Street need only worry about one name – Rivers.

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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sports writer who has covered the high school, collegiate and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield and Oregon State athletics, the Portland Trail Blazers and golf throughout his career.

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