The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) announced this week a new period for Qualified Gaming Entities (QGEs) petitions to allow out-of-state online gaming operators to enter the market.
Standalone Online Casino and Poker Licenses The QGE application process announced by the PGCB will run for two months from January 3, 2023, offering 12 certificates that, unlike regular iGaming licenses, will not be tied to a land-based casino in Pennsylvania.
The new offer is split equally between the online casino and online poker verticals while online sports betting is excluded. Of the six certificates available for online casino operators, three will authorize operators to offer slot games and three will be for table games operations. Each certificate will cost $4 million.
Currently, there are 18 online casinos in the state operating under 10 land-based casino licenses as the law does not limit the number of online casino skins per land-based operator but none of the iGaming operators has the degree of freedom to operate as a standalone QGE.
The new QGE application process is the second announced by the gaming regulator in the Keystone State following a similar process in 2018 when the PGCB offered 10 certificates – four for poker, three for slots and three for table games but received only two applications – from Golden Nugget and BetMGM.
First QGE Still Waiting to Receive Certificate Golden Nugget was then approved for one of the certificates and duly paid the $8 million fee but has not received a certificate to date, while BetMGM partnered with both Hollywood Casino Penn National and Morgantown to ensure its presence across all online gaming verticals, including sports betting.
It is not clear how much interest the QGE certificates will receive this time but the regulator hinted about its plans to authorize up to 10 more online casinos in the next 12 months in its latest annual report.
In September, the board said that six online operators, Bally Bet, Fanatics, Fubo, PlayStar, Golden Nugget, and WynnBET, had started the licensure process with the PGCB, and hinted that other operators such as MaximBet and Betfred also had an interest in obtaining a license.
At that time all six applications were tied to a land-based casino but with the new QGE certificates up for grabs, some of them may decide to change their approach to obtaining authorization, though it is not clear how long it would take for the PGCB to complete the background investigation before issuing a QGE certificate.