PA Approves Temporary Regulations, Expects Sports Betting Applications

The post PA Approves Temporary Regulations, Expects Sports Betting Applications appeared first on SportsHandle.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board on Wednesday voted unanimously to pass its temporary regulations for sports betting in PA at a meeting at the Strawberry Square Complex in Harrisburg. The board also granted three interactive gaming licenses – which do not include sports betting – and approved the “change of control” request for the Presque Isle Casino from Eldorado Resorts to the Churchill Downs corporation.

What does all of this mean? The Keystone State regulators are setting the table for to-be operators to begin offering legal sports betting. As of yet the state has not received a single application for a sports betting certificate, but signs including Churchill Downs’ interest in operating in the state indicate that some may be moving in that direction.

“I don’t know if there is a specific reason no petitions have been submitted as of yet,” Director of Communications for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Doug Harbach told Sports Handle, “but it’s our understanding that there is interest from some of the casinos and they have publicly” stated their plan to bring legal sports betting to Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Law Requires a $10M Application Fee for Sports Betting Licenses and a 34 Percent State Tax.

pennsylvania legal sportsbooks mohegan sun poconos
Inside the Mohegan Sun Pocono in Wilkes-Barre, PA

Pennsylvania has found itself in a bit of a bind since it legalized sports betting last fall. Lawmakers included high taxes on gross gaming revenue – 34 percent state and 2 percent local – as well as a $10 million application fee for casinos offering sports betting. Operators, casino owners and even the NFL have expressed outrage at the potential cost of doing in business in that environment. By comparison, the New Jersey law calls for a $100,000 licensure fee.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the regulations that were approved deal with what types of sports betting the will be allowed and what will be prohibited, rules regarding the testing of systems that would be used for sports wagering, and reports that licensees would be required to submit to the board. The regulations also cover integrity monitoring, organizational requirements, some consumer protection measures, as well as compulsive and problem gambling issues.

In addition on Wednesday, the board unanimously voted to grant three operators – Chester Downs, Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment and Mount Airy Casino –  their interactive gaming certificates. Sports betting is not included under the interactive gaming certificates, which are for poker, slots and table games.

To clarify, the state has 39 interactive gaming certificates currently available – 13 (one for each existing casino) each for poker, slots and table games. Separate from that, casinos must apply  for a specific sports betting interactive certificate.

Casinos can apply for sports wagering certificates, which would allow them to offer both an in-house sportsbook and internet based wagering, “which can be accessed by anyone when within state borders,” Harbach said. “They do not have to be in a casino in any case of internet gaming whether casino games or sports betting.”

When Internet Sports Betting Is Up and Running, Bettors in Pennsylvania Will Be Able to Place Bets From at PA Casinos From Anywhere Within the State’s Borders.

pennsylvania online sports betting laws harrahs pa

Translation? When internet sports betting up and running in Pennsylvania, if you’re sitting at home in Sewickley and want to place a bet on Penn State right now, you could log onto a Pennsylvania sports betting website, put money in your account and place a bet.

That said, it will be at least a few months until internet sports betting is even a possibility in Pennsylvania. Harbach said that as of Wednesday, no applications – in which the applicant would have to explain how deposits would be taken – for internet sports betting had been made, so the earliest the matter would be discussed is at the October Gaming Control Board Meeting.

As Pennsylvania continues to sort out how to handle sports betting, neighboring New Jersey is providing good reason to move forward faster rather than slower. The state released its July revenue numbers on Tuesday and the Garden State took in $3.8 million in gross revenue on a total handle of $40.6 million during a month when baseball – not football – is king.

The numbers translate into a roughly 9.35 percent hold, which includes futures bets, as the report does not filter out futures pending (NJ is using a cash, not accrual method of accounting). Of those numbers, the state collected $327,245 in revenue. That number would be much higher in Pennsylvania at a 34 percent tax rate.

“I think the New Jersey numbers are showing that people want to participate in sports wagering and a lot of it was going on underground and that we feel that sports wagering is going to be very lucrative in Pennsylvania,” Harbach said.

Time will tell.

Sports Betting Regulators, Officials Urge Patience– to Avoid Fumbling

The post Sports Betting Regulators, Officials Urge Patience– to Avoid Fumbling appeared first on SportsHandle.
Don’t rush! If there is one thing that regulators in states that have legal sports betting want to share, that’s it.
“I wouldn’t rush into this,” Delaware Lottery director Vernon Kirk said. “The world is still going to be there tomorrow. If you get started a little late, be thorough, talk to people who have experience with this and just be careful in your legislation and execution.”
On June 5, Delaware became the first state since the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) to offer legal sports betting. Delaware had company upon the debut of New Jersey sports betting on June 14, while Mississippi, Pennsylvania and West Virginia are currently developing regulations, accepting applications and preparing with licensees to begin accepting wagers in the next few months.
DE, PA and NJ Sports Betting Officials Agree: Rolling out Sports Betting Regulations Requires Patience, and States Want to Get It Right the First Time.
Delaware was particularly quick in debuting full-fledged wagering at its licensed properties, but the same facilities already were experienced in offering NFL parlay wagering in years passed, plus it had many of its rules, regulations and technology in place after attempting to offer full-fledged sports betting in 2009. One month in, things are going smoothly.
Other states may not have the luxury of past experience, or the ability to be as nimble as Delaware, the second smallest state by population in the nation.

rhode island sports betting governor raimondo expecting 24 million
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (L) with R.I. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello.

But every state regulating body is likely feeling at least a little bit of pressure. Some lawmakers across the country have been touting sports betting as a windfall for their state budgets. In fact, Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo earmarked $23.5 million in sports betting revenue in her latest budget. Rhode Island made sports betting legal in late June.
To help get there, the state is taking 51 percent of all sports wagering revenue — by far the largest cut in the country. The state will still need to generate an awful lot of wagering and will not be allowing mobile betting off premises, either.
New Jersey will celebrate its first month anniversary of legal sports betting on July 14, which coincides with the first day that The Meadowlands will accept sports wagers. Currently, licensed sportsbooks are operating in three locations in New Jersey.
The Garden State was the driver of Murphy v NCAA, the case that escalated to the Supreme Court and resulted in the high court ruling PASPA unconstitutional. Monmouth Park, a key driver in the lawsuit, was the first to open for business.
“We are pleased with the rollout of sports wagering in New Jersey,” said David L. Rebuck, director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. “While actual wagering only started in June, the Division was preparing for this possibility well in advance. My advice for other jurisdictions would be to have good communication with the industry and look to strong regulatory models such as New Jersey as you move forward.”

‘Don’t Let Your Legislators Go Crazy and Make Ridiculous Projections,’ Warned Delaware Lottery Directory Vernon Kirk. 

In Pennsylvania, which passed its enabling legislation in 2017, the state gaming commission is in the process of rolling out regulations to get started. And just as in any other state, regulators know the whole endeavor is driven by money.
“We understand that the expansion of gambling in Pennsylvania is being undertaken to raise more money for the commonwealth,” said Doug Harbach, Director of Communications for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. “We’re trying to get a potentially lucrative market up and running as soon as possible, but we want to make sure it has all of the necessary regulations to protect the public.”
Harbach’s sentiment was also echoed by Kirk in Delaware and down south, by Allen Godfrey, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission.
“The one thing I would say is to tamp down expectations,” Kirk said. “We’re doing really well, but don’t let your legislators go crazy and make ridiculous projections and saddle you with unrealistic expectations.”
Said Godfrey: “The numbers out there are so out of whack, I wouldn’t want to quote them,” Godfrey said of lawmakers’ pie-in-the-sky expectations. “Anything we get will be more than we’re getting now.”

Mississippi, Pennsylvania and West Virginia Are Aiming to Take First Legal Sports Bets During or Even Before, Football Season.

In Mississippi, sports betting regulations will go into effect on July 21. The state’s gaming commission has already received at least a handful of applications from potential operators and it appears that every commercial casino in the state will offer sports betting. The gaming commission, which has been overseeing the state’s 28 casinos for more than 25 years, moved swiftly to put out its regulations.
In West Virginia, the goal, according to West Virginia Lottery general counsel Danielle Boyd, is for the Mountaineer State to accept its first sports bet by football season, but no later than Sept. 1. West Virginia has five casinos. The state will roll out regulations under “emergency status.”

wv sports betting plans and procedures
The West Virginia Lottery Building.

“It’s a different animal than anything that we’ve dealt with before and so knowing that, we’ve tried to surround ourselves with the best and the brightest consultants,” Boyd told Sports Handle in June. “One of the challenges has been making sure that we have the legislative rules we need, but avoiding ones we don’t. So we’ll need some flexibility.”
“We do have ’emergency status’ until early December as far as these legislative rules are concerned. So we can change them, we can add to them if we need to until December, but after that point, they would have to go through the legislative rule making process.”
Back in Pennsylvania, Harbach says the goal is slow and steady.

Focus of PA Sports Betting Regulations Is to Protect the Public.

“We know our chief role is to protect the public,” he said. “So we’re going to make sure we have it right. We’re not rushing anything.”
Pennsylvania lawmakers made sports betting legal in 2017 pending the status of PASPA. Since the Supreme Court decision came down, state regulators have rolled out draft regulations for sports betting and opened them to public comment. Those comments — from the professional sports leagues, Penn State University, Pitt and potential gaming operators — are under review. But the comment period is an example of why regulators can’t rush — it takes time to hear from stakeholders and then open conversations based on concerns.
Harbach thinks his group, similar to Delaware, has a bit of a leg up on other states. In the recent past, the gaming commission has had to develop regulations for fantasy sports and iGaming, among other issues, making sports betting legal a sixth new set of regulations to develop, he said.
Whether it’s sports betting or iGaming, Pennsylvania regulators would rather get it right the first time.
“The potential for revenue will be there when we are ready,” Harbach said. “We’re not feeling the pressure from the legislators. They understand that we need to get it right. There are some who see it as being beneficial as being ready before the football season, but we are not [aiming] for a particular sports season.”
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