Pennsylvania reopens igaming application period for untethered online casinos

Pennsylvania x NJ
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The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has announced it will begin taking applications for igaming licenses from casino operators outside of the state, through a Qualified Gaming Entity scheme. 

Seeking to attract new operators to the state, the PGCB has opened up a petition period for operators that do not have a casino presence in Pennsylvania to apply for an igaming license from Jan 3. 

Qualified Gaming Entities (QGE) is an approved operator that does not have a direct land-based casino presence in Pennsylvania but is deemed suitable for one or more of three igaming certificates for untethered operators. 

Currently, there are 12 remaining certificates across three different categories. Costing $4m each, the three categories are simulated slot machines, bank table games and simulated casino table games and non-bank table games, often online poker. 

Running through Mar 3, the petition period marks the second time that PGCB has sought QGEs to expand the number of operators in the state. 

In 2018, one operator was identified as a QGE but the license was not issued with the application process still in process, highlighting the length of time it could take any prospective outside licensee. 

Before the QGE scheme, only those organizations with a land-based presence in the state, or those with a commercial market access agreement with a brick-and-mortar casino, could access the igaming market in PA. 

In 2018, there were 12 casinos in the state and, when PGCB realized that not all 12 would go down the route of igaming, the regulator introduced the QGE scheme to open the field up. 

But after a relatively unsuccessful first attempt to expand the field, the regulator has opened a second period for untethered online operators to join in the burgeoning igaming market. 

In its most recent monthly revenue report, PGCB confirmed that the state’s operators had set a new US monthly record during November, with total turnover reaching $452.4m. 

Seeking to continue on the growth trajectory as other states deliberate online casino expansion, the PCGB could onboard an additional 12 operators through the QGE process. 

A PGCB statement read: “The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced that it will begin accepting petitions from casino operators primarily operating in jurisdictions outside of Pennsylvania, but who wish to seek approval to be Qualified Gaming Entities.  

“A Qualified Gaming Entity has the ability to obtain one or more of the three categories of igaming certificates that remain available in the Commonwealth and can operate online without having any ties to a Pennsylvania Casino.”