It’s information overload everywhere, and there’s not time enough to sleep and eat and stay fully apprised of what’s happening on this crazy blue dot of ours (two out of three ain’t bad).
Here’s the weekend Sports Handle item, “Get a Grip,” recapping the week’s top stories, and rounding up key stories in sports betting, gaming, and the world of sports at large. You may have missed them, and they are worth reading.
12 Billion Reasons There Is So Much Hype Around Pennsylvania Sports Betting; Launch Pad Readies at Hollywood Penn
The Hollywood Casino in Pennsylvania will make history on Saturday when it fully opens the first legal sportsbook in PA to the public. More than a year after legalizing sports betting, Pennsylvanians will finally be able to legally place a bet — and the state will begin to reap expected financial gains from sports betting. They already have, actually, in the form of $10 million application fee apiece from the six properties so far to apply for a sports wagering license.
Of the eight states that have legalized sports betting, Pennsylvania is the only that that has just about two of everything — NFL teams, MLB teams and NHL teams. The only pro sport with only one Pennsylvania franchise is the NBA.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board received its sixth application for a sports betting license when the Valley Forge Casino Resort filed paperwork on Wednesday. Owned by Boyd Gaming, the sportsbook will be run by FanDuel, which also partnered with Boyd Gaming for “sports betting and online gaming opportunities across the United States,” in August. FanDuel also runs the sportsbooks at two Boyd Gaming facilities in Mississippi, the IP Casino Resort Spa in Biloxi, and Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall in Tunica.
The PGCB says there is no set timetable for approving the application. The board’s next regularly scheduled meeting is Nov. 28, which likely is too soon for the application to be considered. It’s more likely to be on the agenda for one of the December meeting dates.
Five casinos have already been approved for sports betting licenses in Pennsylvania, and in each of those cases, it took a minimum of 5 1/2 weeks between the date of application and board approval. None of the casinos have opened sportsbooks to date.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved applications for three more sports betting certificates at its Wednesday morning meeting, bringing the total number of casinos licensed for PA sports betting to five. Chester Downs and Marina, LLC (Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack), Holdings Acquisitions Co., LP (Rivers Casino) and SugarHouse HSAP Gaming, LP (SugarHouse Casino) all got board approval. Rivers and Sugarhouse are both owned by Rush Street Gaming.
Wednesday’s meeting went smoothly with all three applicants making detailed presentations. The petitions were approved immediately after the final presentation. Each company reviewed its gaming history, both in Pennsylvania and in other states, shared plans for what their temporary and permanent sportsbooks will look like and briefly touched on the desire to roll out internet and mobile gaming sooner than later. The focus on Wednesday, however, was the brick-and-mortar locations.
Pennsylvania initially made 13 sports betting certificates available — one for each licensed casino — and with Wednesday’s approvals, five have been claimed and approved.
At its Oct. 3 meeting, the board approved sports betting licenses for Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing, LLC, operator of the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Track, and Greenwood Gaming, operator of the Parx Casino and South Philadelphia Turf Club.
On Wednesday, it will consider applications from Chester Downs and Marina, LLC (Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack), Holdings Acquisitions Co., LP (Rivers Casino) and SugarHouse HSAP Gaming, LP (SugarHouse Casino). Pennsylvania has 13 sports betting certificates available — one for each licensed casino in the state — and to date, five have been claimed or applied for and eight remain. The application fee is $10 million and gross sports betting revenue is subject to a 36 percent tax (34 percent state, 2 percent local).
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The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board unanimously approved sports betting petitions for Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing (Hollywood Casino) and Greenwood Gaming (Parx Casino and South Philadelphia Turf Club) at its regular meeting Wednesday morning, paving the way for sports betting to go live in the state as early as November.
Greenwood Gaming, which owns the Parx Casino and the South Philadelphia Turf Club, is targeting November to roll out sports betting at its facilities while Mountainview representatives were less specific, and aiming for a rollout later this year.
The PGCB held hearings prior to voting and, in general, things went smoothly. Both companies reviewed their history and experience in sports betting and shared plans for what their sportsbooks will look like (more below). In addition, both groups discussed their desire to roll out mobile and internet sports betting sooner than later, though neither will do so for their initial launch.
The state’s Gaming Control Board said Friday that it received two more applications from casinos for Pennsylvania sports betting licenses, bringing the total number to five. According to the PGCB, Donnelly Law, which represents the Sugarhouse Casino in Philadelphia and the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, filed petitions for licenses. Earlier this week, the Harrah’s filed a petition for a sports betting license for its facility in suburban Philadelphia.
The PGCB also confirmed that it will hold hearings and consider sports betting petitions for the Parx Casino and the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course at its monthly meeting on Wednesday.
The next regular meeting is scheduled for Oct. 31. Whether or not any of the additional licensing petitions will be on the late October agenda has not been confirmed. The Parx Casino applied for a license for use at two locations — its Bensalem location and the Philadelphia Turf Club.
Two Pennsylvania casinos are poised to become the first to get approval for sports betting when the state’s Gaming Control Board meets on Oct. 3. The Hollywood Casino, owned by Penn National and operated by Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing LLC, and the Parx Casino, owned by Greenwood Racing, were the first to apply for sports betting licenses in Pennsylvania when they did so in August.
According to the PGCB’s Director of Communications, Doug Harbach, “it is highly likely that sports wagering petitions from both Penn National and Parx casinos will be up for consideration by the Board at its October 3rd meeting.” If the petitions are on the agenda, hearings will be held at the front end of the meeting.
Pennsylvania has 13 sports betting licenses available, one for each of the 13 casinos operating in the state. To date, 11 remain available, and the state will not auction off any that are not claimed. Pennsylvania approved sports betting nearly a year ago, but the state has not moved as swiftly as others to bring sports betting to market. The PGCB released its temporary regulations in August. The state’s legislature imposed a 36 percent tax (34 percent state and 2 percent local) on operators’ sports betting revenue and a $10 million application fee. Both are significantly higher than any other state that has legal sports betting. As examples, West Virginia has a 10 percent tax rate, New Jersey 8.5 percent and Nevada 6.75 percent.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved two more online gaming licenses at its regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday. PlaySugarHouse and Penn National Gaming gained approval, bringing the number of qualified entities to have purchased some sort of iGaming license to 11. The only two Pennsylvania casinos that have not purchased iGaming licenses are The Meadows and Lady Luck Nemacolin.
PlaySugarHouse, owned by Rush Street Gaming, launched an online sports betting app in New Jersey last month, and Penn National, according to PennBets.com, revealed Wednesday that is will use IGT rather than SG Digital to run its online casino in the state. Penn National partners with SG Digital in New Jersey.
Pennsylvania made sports betting legal nearly a year ago and rolled out regulations over the summer. No casinos have been approved for sports betting licenses in the state, but both Penn National and Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment have applied. It’s likely their applications will be on the gaming control board’s agenda for one of the two October meetings (Oct. 3 or Oct. 31). Those licenses come with a $10 million application fee due within 60 days of approval.
Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, Inc. is planning to get the most bang for its 10 million bucks.
The gaming operator on Friday became the second to apply for a sports betting license in Pennsylvania, where the licensing application is $10 million. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board made the application public on Monday.
Greenwood applied for the application for use at the Parx Casino in Bensalem, as well as the Philadelphia Turf Club, as an auxiliary location. Greenwood’s application follows the Aug. 17 application submitted by Penn National for the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.
Greenwood Gaming Plans to Offer Land-Based, Mobile and Interactive Sports Betting in Pennsylvania, if Its Application Is Approved.
Pennsylvania has the highest licensing fee in the nation, along with a 36 percent tax rate (34 percent state, 2 percent local) for sports betting. The state legalized sports betting in the fall of 2017 and it took nearly 10 months for the first operator to apply for a license. Pennsylvania has 13 sports betting licenses available, one each for every commercial casino currently operating in the state.
In its petition, Greenwood states that it already pays the state $250 million in taxes annually from other gaming ventures and that it intends to offer land-based, mobile and interactive sports betting. The company also states that is will offer any and all sports betting allowed by the state. Who will provide integrity and risk management for Greenwood Entertainment is redacted from the public version of the application.
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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 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.
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.