Pennsylvania’s casinos are coming. They have been for some time and while we knew that the industry will be launching in full in H1 2019, now we have an official confirmation coming from the top.
Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) Executive Director Kevin O’Toole spoke during a recent Board meeting, explaining that PA casinos will have to wait until summer before they can launch in earnest.
The delay, Mr. O’Toole explained, was occasioned by the newly introduced Wire Act Opinion, looking to restrict the clout of online gambling in the United States. Pennsylvania has already joined New Jersey in issuing a firm warning to the Department of Justice that the states may seek litigation against the Opinion.
New Hampshire has already launched three independent lawsuits seeking to contest the Opinion before a 90-day grace period has expired. Meanwhile, Mr. O’Toole explained that the delay would cost the state three or four months, but he didn’t betray any sign of worry.
The Wire Act Destroys the Infrastructure
One of the greatest benefits for Pennsylvania would have been to use servers based in New Jersey, allowing local operators to knock off the cost of gambling and create shared-liquidity schemes, particularly insofar as poker and progressive jackpots go.
Networking between casinos, not to mention sharing technology and free server space, would have been a huge boon to the industry, but it has now all been imperilled by what many have described a frivolous interpretation of the act.
The PGCB has already asked operators to start reviewing how the new Opinion would affect their business prospects.
Meanwhile, the board would still need to go ahead and test important prerequisite of the gaming experience, such as limiting gambling to the bounds of the state and establishing age verification and wealth assessment methods.
Pennsylvania is definitely threatened by the Wire Act Opinion insofar as its ability to scale operations would be limited. However, as a populous state, the PGCB expects over $170 million to be contributed to the local coffers, although there will be additional windfall from slot machine revenue which hasn’t been factored in this sum.
Will Pennsylvania Be Fighting DOJ?
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has already joined his colleague from New Jersey, Gurbir Grewal, issuing a joint-letter in which the pair warned DOJ that trying to slap the rule on states that champion online gambling.
The joint statement warned the DOJ to “withdraw its opinion altogether or assure us that DOJ will not bring any enforcement actions against companies and individuals engaged in online gaming in our states – where it is appropriate under state law.”
With the next several months promising to be eventful, Pennsylvania is marching steadily towards a regulated online casino industry and there seems to be no stopping it.