Out of state casinos can apply for Pa. iGaming certification

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will soon begin accepting petitions from casino operators looking to become Qualified Gaming Entities. 

This round of petitions is aimed at casinos that are primarily operating in jurisdictions outside of Pennsylvania.   

A Qualified Gaming Entity has the ability to obtain one or more of the three categories of iGaming certificates that remain available in the state and can operate online without having any ties to a Pennsylvania Casino.

The PBCB will be accepting the petitions starting Jan. 3 and running through March 3.   

This is the board’s second time making igaming certificates available to entities without a brick-and-mortar presence in Pennsylvania. 

The first petition period was in late 2018.   

Only one entity was determined to be a Qualified Gaming Entity during the earlier petition period, but the application remains in process.

The 12 remaining certificates, which cost $4 million each, are in the following three categories:

Three certificates for games which simulate slot machines. 

Three certificates for bank table games which simulate casino table games played against the house. 

Six certificates for non-bank table games, which are generally poker.

i-gaming and Qualified Gaming Entities are the result of the Gaming Expansion Act of 2017. The state’s 13 Category 1, 2 and 3 slot machine licensees had the first opportunity to apply for and obtain the 39 available interactive gaming certificates. 

Most i-gaming websites in the state are operated directly by Pennsylvania’s “brick and mortar” casinos, or online operators who have entered market access agreements with those casinos.  Qualified Gaming Entities can obtain access to the Pennsylvania online market without any such connections.

State gaming revenue up 4.6% in November

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board reported that total revenue from all forms of gaming along with fantasy contests during November was $452,357,922, an increase of 4.59% over the year before.

Sources of gaming revenue regulated by the board include slot machines, table games, internet gaming, sports wagering, fantasy contests and video gaming terminals.

Hollywood Casino at Penn National generated the most revenue: $71,231,136, up 18.53% from last November.

Hollywood Casino York brought in $7,724,232, an increase of 8.2%.

Total tax revenue raised through all forms of gaming and fantasy contests was $181,826,409 in November.

Gross revenue from slot machines was $185,562,394, about the same as a year ago.

Casino games offered online produced gross revenue of $128,639,234 during November, an increase of 37.01%. That was the highest monthly amount of revenue to date.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board oversees all aspects of gambling involving 16 land-based casinos, online casino games, retail and online sports wagering, and video gaming terminals at qualified truck stops, along with the regulation of online fantasy sports contests.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Mount Airy Casino Resort going 21+

Mount Airy Casino Resort in Mount Pocono. PHOTO/FILE –

Mount Airy Casino Resort in Mount Pocono said it is distinguishing itself from the family-oriented resorts that populate the Poconos by going 21+. 

Starting Dec. 18, the resort will require that all guests on the property be 21 or older. 

The restriction will apply to the entire property, including all hotel rooms, restaurants, spa and pool area, in addition to its casino floor and bar areas. 

“This decision, made after careful consideration and based on feedback from our patrons, caters to the increasing demand we are seeing for exceptional amenities and outstanding personal service,” said Lisa DeNaples, Mount Airy owner and managing trustee. “By offering an adults-only environment, we intend to serve as the premier escape for those seeking an elevated lifestyle that includes high-end experiences and luxury accommodations.” 

Hassan Abdel-Moneim, vice president of resort operations, noted that for generations, the Pocono Mountains have served as a family-friendly destination, with activities for kids of all ages – from animal and water parks to family resorts. 

“We appreciate and endorse all that’s available in the region and suggest visiting the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau if you’re interested in booking a stay in the Poconos with children and adults under the age of 21,” Abdel-Moneim said. “We want our guests to be carefree and have a great time, and a 21-and-older resort contributes to the luxurious atmosphere Mount Airy provides. We’ve already heard from a lot of parents who look forward to staying with us solely because the resort will be a 21-and-older experience.” 

The decision comes with the endorsement of the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau. 

“This decision makes perfect sense based on Mount Airy’s prestigious brand and the resort’s long history of providing an exemplary adult-only experience,” said Chris Barrett, president and CEO of the visitors bureau. “There are many kid-friendly properties located throughout the Poconos and we’re more than happy to assist families in finding those wonderful opportunities for their upcoming visit.” 

Gaming and Leisure Properties to acquire two Rhode Island casinos

Wyomissing-based Gaming and Leisure Properties Inc. announced Wednesday that it has entered into a binding term sheet with Bally’s Corp. to acquire its Twin River Lincoln Casino Resort and Tiverton Casino & Hotel for $1 billion.

The purchase of Bally’s two Rhode Island casino properties is subject to customary regulatory approvals, with the Twin River Lincoln Casino Resort deal also subject to lender consent, a release said.

Bally’s will lease them back in a triple-net lease arrangement and continue to own, control and manage all the facilities’ gaming operations. Gaming and Leisure Properties intends to pay for the transaction through a combination of debt, equity and partnership units.

The casinos/resorts are expected to be added to Gaming and Leisure’s master lease with Bally’s, which has an initial term of 15 years followed by four five-year renewals at the tenant’s option.

“GLPI is delighted to extend our relationship with Bally’s that brings to the table a high-growth track record through their ownership of properties in attractive regional gaming markets,” Peter Carlino, chairman and CEO of Gaming and Leisure Properties, said in the release. “Bally’s Rhode Island assets have delivered exceptionally strong performance over their lifetime thanks to their attractive location near Providence while planned capital investments at Lincoln offer healthy upside potential.

He said that Bally’s properties are the only two gaming facilities in Rhode Island “and the transaction again diversifies our portfolio as the state becomes our 18th U.S. jurisdiction. … We thank Bally’s for their trust in GLPI and look forward to fostering this growing relationship going forward.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Pa. gaming revenue up 22% in the first quarter

First-quarter commercial gaming revenue surged 22.3% in Pennsylvania over last year and 52.6% from two years ago, as the nationwide total of $14.31 billion nearly set a quarterly record.

That’s according to the American Gaming Association’s Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker, which reported that the Q1 figure was just under the all-time quarterly record of $14.35 billion set from October to December 2021.

A big part of 2022’s first-quarter number was the $5.31 billion generated in March, the highest-grossing month of commercial gaming revenue in industry history.

In Pennsylvania, revenue was almost $1.278 billion from Jan. 1 to March 31.

Nationwide, first-quarter revenue from table games grew at a faster rate year-over-year (42.7%) compared with slot revenue (19.4%), bouncing back from the COVID-19 restrictions on table games at the beginning of 2021.

“Consumers continue to seek out gaming’s entertainment options in record numbers,” Bill Miller, the American Gaming Association’s president and CEO, said in a release. “Q1’s strong results build on the industry’s record year in 2021 despite continued headwinds from supply chain constraints, labor shortages and the impact of soaring inflation.”

Pennsylvania gaming industry reports revenue for January 2022 

Pennsylvania’s gaming and fantasy contests brought in over $393 million in revenue in January 2022, a 26% increase over January 2021. 

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board reported the combined total revenue generated from all forms of gaming in January 2021 last week. 

The report includes a list of Pennsylvania casinos and their revenue in January. It also compares those earnings with January 2021. 

Casinos listed in the report include Hollywood Casino at Penn National in Dauphin County, which had a total revenue of $57.2 million in January 2022 and $43.5 million in January 2021—a change of 31.36%. 

Wind Creek Bethlehem brought in a total revenue of $38.4 million last month compared to $26.3 million in January 2021- a jump of 46.17%. 

Others included Hollywood Casino York, which brought in $6.6 million last month and had no recorded revenue in January 2021 and Hollywood Casino Morgantown, which saw a 965.71% increase from $414,300 to $4.4 million. 

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board also reported record-breaking revenue from Internet Casino Type Gaming of $108.3 million—eclipsing October 2021’s previous record of $102.8 million. 

Fantasy Contests, which include betting on platforms such as DraftKings, FanDuel and Underdog Sports, made $2.8 million in revenue in January. 

Pennsylvania’s land-based casino industry is currently made up of six racetrack casinos, five stand-alone casinos, two resort casinos and three mini casinos. Two additional mini casinos are planned for completion in the coming years. 

Penn National begins hiring for Hollywood Casino Morgantown

Artist rendering of the planned Hollywood Casino Morgantown. PHOTO/FILE –

Penn National Gaming Inc. Of Wyomissing will be bringing 375 new jobs to Berks County by the end of the year. 

The company, which operates casinos around the country, announced Tuesday that it  has opened a career center at the Holiday Inn Morgantown at 6170 Morgantown Rd., and is accepting applications for positions at its planned Hollywood Casino Morgantown, which is expected to open by the end of 2021. 

“We are thrilled to begin accepting applications for our newest property from residents of Berks, Lancaster, and Montgomery counties, and other neighboring communities,” said Erin Chamberlin, senior vice president of regional operations for Penn National. “We look forward to interviewing candidates for the vast array of jobs that will support our expected grand opening later this year.” 

The company will also be hosting a number of table games dealer school open house hiring events over the next two weeks at the career center. Table games dealer school is expected to start in late September and is free of charge for those who accept employment offers from the company. 

Positions will also be available in casino operations, food and beverage, security and surveillance, human resources, marketing and other positions. 

Penn National said it is offering competitive pay, benefits and up to $1,500 in sign-on bonuses for new hires. 

When complete the Hollywood Casino Morgantown will be an 80,000-square-foot gaming facility that will feature approximately 750 slot machines and 30 tables games. 

There will also be a Barstool Sportsbook and race book, and food and beverage options. 

Wind Creek Bethlehem launches online gaming website

Wind Creek Casino Bethlehem launched a real money gaming website through a partnership with Pala Interactive.

As part of this partnership, Pala will provide Wind Creek with its online player account management system.

“Together we are positioned to deliver our customers a state of-the-art online gaming experience and we look forward to a long-term and successful relationship,” said Jay Dorris, president & CEO of Wind Creek Hospitality.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved the launch of the Wind Creek real money online casino July 24. The launch represents completion of the first phase of a multi-stage real money and social casino plan. The next phase will be the introduction of the Wind Creek sports betting offering in partnership with BetFred USA Sports and Scientific Games Corporation, expected to launch later this fall.

Wind Creek is run by Wind Creek Hospitality under the authority of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

New website reviews Pennsylvania’s online casinos

Since Pennsylvania’s gaming regulations were expanded to allow casinos to include online gaming in their offerings, gambling websites have become increasingly popular in the state.

With the COVID-19 pandemic keeping bricks and mortar casinos at limited capacity, and many potential players shying away from public spaces, these websites have skyrocketed in popularity – especially online slot games.

So now the company, Gambing.com Group Plc, an international gambling marketing company, has launched a new website, SlotSource.com, to provide comprehensive reviews of more than 150 online slots available in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and other state’s with regulated online gaming.

“As states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey see record growth in online casino revenue, new players need resources like SlotSource.com to navigate the growing universe of games and options and stay on the right side of the divide between regulated and offshore providers,” said Charles Gillespie, CEO of Gambling.com Group.

He noted that in recent months online slots have been experiencing strong growth. For May 2020, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board reported that the online slots handle in Pennsylvania surpassed the $1 billion mark for the first time with a month-on-month increase of 40%.

Gillespie said the website is designed to help slot fans locate online casinos that have their favorite online slots as well as advice on which online casinos are fair, reputable, legal and licensed in their state. It also offers resources to help slot players manage their deposits and withdrawals from online casinos.

Online casinos began in Pennsylvania in July of last year.

Mount Airy Casino Resort to reopen Monday

Mount Airy Casino Resort in Mount Pocono is reopening June 22. PHOTO/FILE –


Mount Airy Casino Resort in Mount Pocono said it’s reopening on Monday, June 22. It has been closed since March 17 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, although it did reopen its golf club on May 2.

The casino does need to get Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approval.

With that approval, the casino will open at noon with social distancing and safety measures in place.

To meet CDC guidelines the casino floor and restaurants will be limited to 50% capacity for now.

“We have made a commitment to providing our guests with the highest standards of cleanliness and safety,” said Glenn Cademartori, vice president of marketing at Mount Airy. “The safety and well-being of our team members and guests are our top priority and we are confident that the measures in place will ensure a safe, clean and enjoyable experience for all. In working with the PGCB and regional healthcare professionals, we have implemented a multitude of new policies and procedures that will keep everyone safe but still allow them to experience the many things they love about our resort.”

He noted that the casino resort has undergone an extensive sanitizing and staff have been trained in upgraded cleaning protocol.

Guests and staff will be required to wear masks while on property.

Hand sanitizing stations have been added throughout the property to ensure that all guests and staff are cleaning their hands as frequently as possible

There will also be disinfecting wipes to clean machines.

The casino resort also installed plexiglass dividers at all transactional locations.

Other preventative measures include temperature checks, spacing between slot machines and seats at table games.

The poker room and sports book will remain closed until further notice. The spa and fitness center will be open following CDC guidelines.

$50 on the shark? Gamblers getting creative with no sports to bet on

With few traditional sports to bet on, sportsbooks are offering odds on such unusual things as the migration pattern of sharks. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES 


While there were still virtually no sports to bet on because of COVID-19 shutdowns in May, Pennsylvania’s nascent sportsbook industry did see an increase in bets over April.

The Pennsylvania gaming control board reported that online sportsbooks generated $77.5 million in wagers in May, up more than 68% over April, which saw only $46 million in wagers.

According the gaming analyst PlayPennsylvania.com much of the betting was on NASCAR, which began racing last month, European Soccer League games and some futures betting on football and basketball.

There are also some more obscure sports gamblers can place wagers on such as South Korean baseball.

An online website MyBookie is also launching wagering on the migration pattern of sharks.

Gamblers can watch the migration on line and at ocenrch.com and will be able to wager on an assortment of odds pertaining to the specific migration patterns of individual great white sharks.

After being tagged with a tracker, sharks ping on Ocearch when they come to the surface. Based on these pings, MyBookie will offer gamblers a variety of ways to place bets, such as how far a shark will travel between pings, whether a shark will enter a certain body of water, and what date a shark will ping next.

“Over the past few months – because most major sports are shuttered because of COVID-19 – we’ve had to be creative when it comes to providing our users with something to wager on. We’ve offered odds on everything from pro table tennis to simulated NFL games to politicians (who would secure the Democratic Presidential nomination) to various stock indexes (an over-under on the S&P 500) to pop culture (who would play the Penguin role in the next Batman movie),” said David Strauss of MyBookie.

Of course that doesn’t make up for the betting that would occur on traditionally popular sports.

“A normal menu of sports would likely mean an almost instant recovery for online sportsbooks, though we may still be a few months from that happening,” said Valerie Cross, analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “Pennsylvania’s online sportsbooks have been savvy in keeping their customers engaged with sports well outside the mainstream. That will only help when things begin to return to normal.”

While sportsbooks are off, Cross said online casinos – also relatively new to Pennsylvania – are gaining momentum with bricks-and-mortar casinos shuttered since mid-March.

Cross said online casinos and poker rooms set a new record with $55.9 million in gross revenue, up 29.7% from $43.1 million in April and nearly triple the $19.5 million they too in for February. That comes from a total of $1.8 billion was bet on online table games and slots in May, up from $1.4 billion in April.

While that sounds like good news, and certainly gives a leg up to the new online gaming offerings, it should be noted the state’s casinos still missed out on the $286.1 million land-based casinos generated in May 2019.


Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks wagering drops, while online casinos surge

With virtually all sports being shut down since mid-March by the COVID-19 pandemic, Pennsylvania’s sportsbook industry had another dismal month in April, while online casinos have experienced a bit of a surge.

The state’s sportsbooks took just $46 million in online bets during April, about $300 million less than analysts predicted before the virus hit, said Dustin Gouker, analyst for PlayPennsylvania.

“The growth in online gambling as well as betting on non-traditional sports are industry bright spots,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “But there just isn’t any way for Pennsylvania operators to compensate for such a dramatic loss of revenue, including at retail sportsbooks and land-based casinos, that can’t generate a single dollar right now.”

In a previous interview, he noted that what little betting has been going on since the pandemic hit has been futures, with bets on such things as who will win the 2021 Super Bowl and a few games that have occurred in other counties, such as South Korea, which has been holding crowd-less baseball games.

With most sports still on hold, he said, it doesn’t look like the industry will be rebounding anytime soon.

But with the bricks and mortar casinos closed people with an itch to gamble found their way to online casinos, which have been trending up. Online casinos and poker rooms brought in $43.1 million in revenue last month, up 77.4% from the record $24.3 million in March, and 121% over February’s $19.5 million.

Online table games and slots generated $1.4 billion in wagers in April, up from $871.6 million in March.