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Pennsylvania Online Casinos Legal
Pennsylvania passed a bill introducing online gambling and daily fantasy sports to the state on October 30, 2017. The new regulations gave Pennsylvania Online Casinos permission to offer sports betting as soon as the Supreme Court ruled on this matter. Then the Supreme Court declared the federal ban on sports betting unconstitutional on May 14, 2018, overturning the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992.
This led the Keystone State to become the fourth state to legalize online gambling. The local iGaming industry is expected to surpass that of Nevada, New Jersey, or Delaware due to Pennsylvania’s large population which is almost at 13 million. This is much higher as compared to nine million in NJ or three million in NV. Pennsylvania already has a well-established land-based gambling industry, which is second only to Nevada in its size. In 2017, the combined revenue of all Pennsylvania-based casinos exceeded $3,000,000.
On that historic day of October 30, 2017, a victory for online gambling was marked. It was on that day that Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed an omnibus gaming expansion bill, HB 271, into law.
Inside the provisions of HB 271
HB 271 is a comprehensive bill that underwent many revisions, with the final version clocking in at over 900 pages. We’ve dissected the bill, and pulled the important parts relevant to those interested in the online gambling provisions.
- Legalizes online poker, slots, and table games.
- 12 total licenses available, one for each of the state’s 12 land-based casinos. Each license is broken down into three categories: poker, slots, and table games
- For the first 90 days of the licensing period, casinos can apply for a collective license covering all three verticals for $10 million.
- After 90 days, casinos will be allowed to apply for an individual segment of a license for $4 million a pop.
- After 120 days, any unclaimed licenses can be purchased by qualified entities that aren’t PA land-based casinos. The cost per segment is $4 million.
- Vendor licenses will cost $1 million.
- The tax rate on online poker and table games is set at 14% of gross gaming revenue with an additional 2% allocated for a local share assessment. The slot rate is a hefty 52%, also with an added 2% reserved for the local share.
In addition to online gambling, HB 271 legalizes the following:
- Video gaming terminals (VGTs) at truck stops
- Online lottery
- Daily fantasy sports
- The construction of up to 10 Category 4 (satellite) casinos.
- Sports betting, pending the federal law that currently prohibits sports betting in most states, is overturned.
Statutory and Regulatory Structure
Location of Operators and Equipment
The law requires that all interactive gaming devices and associated equipment be located: i) in an interactive gaming restricted area on the premises of the licensed facility; ii) in an interactive gaming restricted area within the geographic limits of the county in Pennsylvania where the licensed facility is located; or iii) in any other area approved by the Board.
Location of Patrons
Pennsylvania law states that all wagers made through interactive gaming are deemed to be initiated, received, or otherwise made within the geographic boundaries of the Commonwealth. Wagers are deemed to be placed by the interactive gaming certificate holder.
Players must first register for and establish an interactive gaming account before playing a game or placing a wager. The interactive gaming account must have the ability to verify the player’s age, identity, and physical address to ensure compliance with the Act. Persons excluded from registering for or maintaining an account include those under the age of 21, those on any self-exclusion or rejection list, and those who are gaming employees, key employees, or principal employees of a slot machine licensee or interactive gaming operator.
Pennsylvania Sports Betting
Online sports betting became legal in Pennsylvania as soon as the Supreme Court struck down the PASPA federal ban because local regulators signed the relevant bill in advance of this ruling. Every entity that holds a casino license for slots can apply for a sports wagering certificate, which means that 11 of the 13 local gambling establishments will soon be free to enter this game. Just like with casino games, the costs are expected to be high – a certificate costs $10 million, and the tax rate is 36% on overall revenue.
None of the eligible casinos have applied for a sports betting certificate so far, but some of them will undoubtedly try to secure a slice of that pie. Since the barrier to entry is very high, we don’t expect any second-league brands. Local casinos will undoubtedly go for the most popular and easily recognizable brands, such as William Hill, Bet365, Winamax, or even BetStars.
Pennsylvania Daily Fantasy Sports Laws
According to the new Pennsylvania iGaming bill, DFS contests are supervised by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, but the rules are slightly different than for other forms of internet gambling. Operators aren’t required to have a local partner, a five-year license costs $50,000, and the tax on gross revenue is 15%. Both DraftKings and FanDuel have already been approved, and the list of companies that are currently going through the licensing process is as follows:
- Boom Fantasy
- Fantasy Football Players Championship
- Sports Hub
Finally, PGCB’s executive director, Kevin O’Toole, has announced that Pennsylvanians who already participate in DFC contests with any of the licensed companies won’t need to re-register with their sites and will experience no difference in gameplay.
After the recent iGaming bill was passed, the Lottery launched a new website called PA iLottery, which gives Pennsylvanians access to 25 casino-style games. Most of them are very similar to slots in terms of gameplay and style, and their continued availability depends on the outcome of the lawsuit filed by the local casinos.
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