Regulator Approves Standalone License for Bally Casino PA

The operator also received two certificates from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) to offer online slots and table games. Each certificate from the regulator costs $4 million.
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March 23, 2023

On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) granted Bally Casino PA status as an out-of-state operator, clearing the way for the operator to launch online casino gaming in the state without being tethered to a land-based casino license.

Bally Casino’s application to be considered a Qualified Gaming Entity (QGE) was the first item on the agenda for PGCB Chief Counsel Steve Cook at Wednesday’s board meeting. PGCB spokesman Doug Harbach confirmed to PA Gaming Review that the board approved the application by Bally Casino.

Harbach also confirmed that Bally Casino had been awarded two certificates — one for online slots and one for online table games. The Providence, Rhode Island-based operator likely paid $8 million to the state for the certificates.

It’s unclear when Bally Casino PA will launch in the state.

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PGCB has 10 available certificates remaining, each with a $4 million price tag. Six certificates would allow a QGE to offer online poker, while two certificates are for online slots and two for online table games. Online sports betting is not available to QGEs.

Regulator Last Looked for QGEs in 2018

Bally Casino appears to have been the only applicant for designation as a QGE. Betfred was considered a possible applicant since it runs online and retail sportsbooks at Wind Creek Bethlehem Casino, but an application from Betfred did not materialize.

PGCB announced last December that it would reopen the QGE application process. The regulator accepted applications from January 3 to March 3.

PGCB last accepted applications from QGEs in late October 2018. The regulator had 10 interactive gaming licenses available back then — four for online poker, three for slots, and three for table games.

Golden Nugget ultimately qualified as a QGE after the first round of applications, but a certificate has not been issued to date.

Pennsylvania’s gaming law requires online operators to partner with a land-based casino, but there is no limit on the number of skins a land-based casino may have. And while each of the state’s current 18 online casinos is tethered to a land-based property, the law also allows PGCB to consider applications for QGEs.

An operator tethered to a land-based casino could potentially apply for designation as a QGE and switch to the standalone license. To date, no operator has taken those steps.

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Market Strong Since December 2022

Last October, PGCB projected that an additional 10 online casinos could launch in PA by June 23, 2023. At the time, six operators — Bally Casino, Fanatics, Fubo, Golden Nugget, PlayStar, and WynnBET — had started the licensure process. WynnBET received a license in January but has yet to launch.

DraftKings acquired Golden Nugget Online Gaming (GNOG) since Golden Nugget’s designation as a QGE. It appears that the most likely land-based property where Golden Nugget could launch would be the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, but Golden Nugget could also decide to get its own standalone license.

Pennsylvania online casinos had their third-highest month for revenue in February with $129 million, PGCB data show. In a sign that the market is strong, the vertical’s top three months for revenue have been the three most recent.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling (VACPG) helpline at 1-888-532-3500

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