Pennslyvania regulators approved the state’s 19th online casino. This past week, they awarded a Pennsylvania online casino license to Bally’s, which will launch Bally online casino soon. It’s the second licensure win for Bally’s in the Keystone State, as regulators approved a Bally’s brick-and-mortar casino in January.
The online gambling license is a key acquisition for the company, whose online gaming CEO said Bally’s 2022 online sports betting and casino results were “unacceptable.”
QGE license is a rarity for Pennsylvania online casino operators
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) gave Bally’s a qualified gaming entity (QGE) license. A QGE license allows out-of-state entities to open an online casino without partnering with a brick-and-mortar Pennsylvania casino. No casino partnerships mean operators get more of their online gambling revenue.
The PGCB has offered QGE licenses only twice in the past five years. Once in 2018 and again from Jan. 3 to Mar. 3 this year.
In the big picture, Bally’s forthcoming entry into the Pennsylvania market is part of the company’s new approach to online gambling. Bally’s overhauled its interactive gaming division in January.
It came out of that period focused on taking share in its online gambling markets (which will soon include Pennsylvania) and leasing tech that will improve its online casino and marketing initiatives.
Bally’s future entry into the Pennslyvania online casino market gives it a chance to capture a slice of more than $120 million in slots and table-game revenue, according to the latest PGCB revenue report.
Bally’s gets brick-and-mortar license and online license in three-month span
Two months ago, the PGCB approved a mini-casino license for Bally’s. The license gives the company the green light to build a mini-casino in College Township, home to Penn State University.
With the license, Bally’s can operate a casino with:
- Up to 750 slot machines
- Up to 30 table games (for a $2.5 million fee)
- A retail sportsbook
- A stage for live music and special events
- Fast-food venues
Bally’s has the option, per PGCB rules, to add another 10 table games a year after the casino opens. Bally’s plans to open the casino at a former Macy’s in Nittany Mall.
The approval came after a years-long saga between Ira Lubert, the individual who won the bid for the license, and Cordish Companies, the developer that lost the license to Lubert.
Cordish fought the licensure via a lawsuit against the state. The developer said Lubert did not meet PGCB requirements for a license bidder. The PGCB didn’t see it that way and awarded Lubert the license.
Community members pushing back against Bally’s mini-casino
Some State College community members are unhappy about having a casino in their town. The property will be less than a 10-minute drive from Penn State University. And that could present a gambling risk to students.
Andrew Shaffer, a State College resident, told PlayPennsylvania.com:
“The opposition to the proposed Nittany Mall Casino is rooted in widespread revulsion at what appears to be a transparent attempt by former and current Penn State trustees to exploit thousands of Penn State students for their own personal financial gain.”