MGM And Golden Nugget Inching Closer To Being Online Casino Gaming Providers In Pennsylvania

MGM And Golden Nugget Inching Closer To Being Online Casino Gaming Providers In Pennsylvania

MGM and Golden Nugget are two of the biggest casino operators in the US. They are also creeping closer to being online casino operators in PA.

This week the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) announced that the two applicants had been approved under the board’s Qualified Gaming Entity (QGE) program and as such are eligible to hold one of the state’s brand new online casino gaming licenses. The PGCB created the QGE category when they failed to “sell out” of all the online licenses that had been created and earmarked for the state’s 13 land-based casinos.

These licenses are of three types. One allows online table games. One allows online slots. The last allows peer-to-peer gaming, the most obvious application of which is online poker. Each license costs $4 million and if an operator applies for all three, they get a special bundled price of $10 million.

Leaving assets on the table

Of the state’s  13 existent casinos, only ten stepped up to apply for these licenses. While most of these chose the bundled option, three casinos opted for slots and table games only. This left the PGCB sitting with 12 available licenses, three each for slots and table games and nine for online poker. That’s what led them to create the QGE concept and seek interest from casino operators outside the state.

The PGCB had initially set up a lottery system for the flood of applicants they anticipated to seek QGE status, but MGM and Golden Nugget were the only two operators that came calling. This obviously makes the planned for lottery unnecessary and also means the PGCB isn’t going to find a buyer for all the licenses they created.

Next Hurdle: The online gaming license application process

This is only the first step of the process that will see these two operators hosting online gaming in Pennsylvania. Achieving QGC status allows MGM and Golden Nugget to proceed to the next step and apply for online licenses.

MGM will be applying for all three: table games, slots, and online poker. Golden Nugget will only seek approval for table games and slots. It seems that many casino operators think online poker will be a heavily saturated market and a difficult one in which to recoup license fees and generate a profit.

Now MGM and Golden Nugget will need to submit online gaming applications just as the PA casinos had to. While not a rubber stamp process, it is almost a certainty that they will be approved. None of the ten local casinos had any problems with the process and both these two casino operators are currently operating licensed online casinos in New Jersey.

Hurry up and wait

The next PGCB meeting isn’t until Feb 6. That’s the earliest MGM and Golden Nugget will be able to present their applications to the board. In addition, the PGCB’s primary interest of late is the roll-out of the state’s newly legalized sportsbooks and Video Gaming Terminals. The online casino issue has somewhat been pushed to the back burner.

All this adds up to MGM and Golden Nugget having to wait a while before they can launch operations in PA.

No PA casinos launching online casinos anytime soon.

The good news for MGM and Golden Nugget is that the PGCB seems to be holding back on allowing any casino to launch online gaming. The other ten license holders have all been approved, but the PGCB is still waiting and all indications are that they will continue to wait until Spring.

This gives the two new QGEs time to catch up to the pack before anyone can go live with online gaming. This is probably intentional and in fact the entire point of the delay. It would be arguably unfair for a casino operator to have to play market share catch-up vs. operators who were allowed to launch months in advance. After all, these are brand new licenses and everybody paid the same amount for them.

Despite this leveling of the playing field, there’s one area in which MGM and Golden Nugget must take a back seat to operators in PA and that area is sports betting. Currently no QGE is allowed to hold a PA sports betting license, online or otherwise. In this highly valued area, local operators will hold a privileged position.

Do Pennsylvanian’s have online gaming options while they wait?

Those unwilling to wait for online gaming opportunities should take a look at Pennsylvania’s online lottery. It’s up and running with a wide variety of fun games where you can play and win real money. Even better, new players who sign up to the PA iLottery with bonus code WINNER will receive $5 free to play just for signing up. Also available is a 50% deposit bonus up to $50 for your initial deposit.

It’s not quite online slots, table games or poker, but it is legal online gambling and it’s available right now.