A decent number of Pennsylvania-based casinos have finally forwarded applications for the state’s online gaming licenses. This was reported by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) last Monday shortly before the window for the first phase of the licenses application process came to an end.
Each of the 9 casinos that have applied for the online gaming licenses had to part with a whopping $10 million for a comprehensive gaming license that included online poker, online table games, and online slots. The last-minute submissions have effectively put an end to the wild speculations that the Keystone State’s casinos would forego online gambling due to the uninviting landscape of high fees and taxes that the state will be imposing on the online gaming revenue as well as the restrictions on skins and on-property wagering.
The casinos that have applied are:
- Stadium Casino
- Mount Airy
- Sands Bethlehem
- Hollywood Casino
- Valley Forge
- Harrah’s Philadelphia
- Rivers Casino
- SugarHouse Casino
The Monday, July 16 rush to file the license petitions saw the number of casinos that sent applications rose from three at the end of last week to nine. As it stands, only four casinos – Mohegan Sun, Presque Isle Downs, Meadows Casino and Lady Luck Casino – did not apply for the discounted licenses but the next phase of the licensing period is already on. The four casinos, therefore, have the option of applying for the individual non-discounted licenses at a fee of $ million per category, an option that will only be available until August 14.
Phase three of the online gaming process may or may not occur as it is dependent on whether all the available licenses are sold out or not. In case, there are some left after August 14, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board said that it “may set a time for when it would begin accepting petitions from qualified gaming entities to conduct interactive games in all or some of the categories.”
A Significant Gamble
The licenses were clearly a huge gamble for the Keystone State’s lawmakers and gambling regulator particular because the casinos had already declared their opposition to the accompanying tax rates – 16 percent on the casinos’ wins for online poker and online table games, and 54 percent for online slots. These rates are, by far, the highest in any state and four times higher than the rates in New Jersey, where online gambling has been a thing for a while.
“While we remain disappointed with the state’s exorbitantly high tax rate, we have decided to proceed with the hope that we can continue to work to bring the tax in line with what other gaming jurisdictions around the world have instituted. Simply put, we’ve chosen to have a seat at the table in which we can share with the state our results and continue to educate them on why a competitive tax rate is ultimately a win-win for the state and the operator,” Eric Schippers, the Penn International Gaming spokesman said.