Finally! The Keystone State’s online gaming and online poker industries are set to officially kick off operations in July. This has been confirmed by a letter from Kevin O’Toole, the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) which was addressed the state’s 13 licensed casino operators and stated that interactive gaming will be permitted beginning July 15.
“We know many of you have been diligently working toward the launch of interactive gaming. Consistent with our pledge near the beginning of this process … the Board intends to launch a coordinated timeframe for the commencement of I-Gaming in Pennsylvania in order to provide similar market access, to the extent possible, to certificate holders and operators,” the executive director stated.
This development was set off back in October 2017 when the state approved a gaming expansion bill that happened to include interactive gaming. Since then, the state’s gaming regulator has approved a total of 10 interactive gaming license applications from the existing land-based casino operators as well as three online gaming operators that have partnered with the land-based casino holders. In addition to that, the PGCB even approved licenses from out-of-state qualified gaming entities. All of these gaming operators will be allowed to go live on July 15 so as to ensure that they are all able to begin on a level playing field.
To participate in the online gaming activities, the players will need to be 21 years or older and be located within the state’s borders. There will, presumably, be other forms of verification checks to determine affordability and promote responsible gambling.
What About Online/Mobile Sports Betting?
Fans of sports betting are likely to begin placing online and mobile bets much sooner with the vertical reportedly set to begin in the next two to three weeks. Mobile sports betting is seen as a remedy to the rather lackluster performance of the sports betting industry in recent months and this is probably why its launch is being rushed.
The New Wire Act Opinion
As much as the debut of online gambling in the Keystone State has been in the pipeline for quite some time, it goes without saying that the reinterpretation of the 1961 Wire Act in January tipped the scales quite a bit. Now, it seems like the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is hedging its bets on the outcome of an ongoing lawsuit that was filed by the state of New Hampshire against the Department of Justice.
Regardless of the outcome, the online gaming industry in Pennsylvania will still go live albeit with some tweaks to the way the industry will be expected to operate – shortly after the announcement of the new Wire Act opinion, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board instructed all of its interactive gaming license holders to adjust their operations to be in compliance with the new opinion.