On October 30, 2017 Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Wolf officially legalized online gambling in the Keystone State through the signing of HB 271. Pennsylvania is the fourth state to legalize online gambling in the United States, joining New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada.
Licensing Fees and Tax Rates
The bill regulating online gaming as a possible untapped source of recurrent revenue for the state was advocated by Nick Miccarelli, Rosita Youngblood, and John Payne. HB271 stipulates licensed land-based casino operators that offer online slots, peer to peer online poker and video gaming. Each operator is mandated to buy a license for every game form that they intend to offer. Licensing fees cost $4 million, with the operator presented with an option to procure all three types of licenses for only $10 million if paid for within 90 days. The projected revenue for the licensing cost alone is pegged at about $200 million.
Online poker and other table games are set to be taxed at 14%, plus an added 2% local tax, close enough to New Jersey’s 17.5% online casino tax rate. However, Pennsylvanian lawmakers are thinking of charging slot revenues at 54%. The huge tax rate and multiple licensing costs could very well deter small online casino operators to shy away from the PA online gambling industry.
Online Poker Providers
Though online gambling is now legal in Pennsylvania, it will still take several months for the online casinos to be up. In connection to online poker gaming, Pennsylvania might as well link up with New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware as a big player pool is necessary in playing poker. The combined population of the three states is over 25 million. However, the number is not as significant compared to players’ pool across the globe.
The three biggest international online poker providers are PokerStars, Borgata/Party/PlayMGM, and 888/WSOP, with Pala Poker as a standalone operator. The three biggies are expected to service Pennsylvania as they are qualified to operate in the US market. Other possible providers are Unibet and Playtech.
Online Casino Brands
Online casinos may bode well in case of interstate pooling in progressive jackpots and live dealer tables. However, the results of these game types does not depend on the number of people are online.
Land-based casinos are most likely to join the list of online casinos planning to open up in Pennsylvania. The following are online casino in operation in New Jersey, and they are expected to soon operate in Pennsylvania:
• 888 Casino
• Harrah’s or Caesar’s
• Mohegan Sun
• Pala Casino
Golden Nugget, New Jersey’s biggest online casino revenue provider, may well join the short list too. A few more months and Pennsylvania’s online casino industry is set to explode!