Pennsylvania takes first steps in sports betting regulation

By Robert Simmons

Representatives from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board have passed the first set of temporary regulations concerning sports betting, in a meeting on Wednesday.

The main purpose in approving these regulations is to give the states casinos the impetus to apply for licences to operate sports betting. Under regulations, category 1-3 casinos can apply for a ‘Sports Betting Certificate’ at a cost of $10m, allowing them to physically set up their sports books.

Any operators wishing to apply for sports betting certificates must first illustrate that they have the appropriate financing required to run a sports book, the ability and experience to do it together with illustrating that appropriate security systems are in place. Additionally, interested casino groups can also apply for an interactive license, allowing them to conduct mobile sports betting in the state.

Upon receipt of a completed application the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has 120 days to conduct required background checks and infrastructure reviews needed to issue a licence. Under regulations sports book facilities must be physically connected to the casino’s gaming floor in order to qualify for licensing protocols.

With so many states across the US now rushing to get sports betting up and running, the race is on to be the first to operate legalised sports betting and get a jumpstart on the market. With the NFL season starting in September the timing has never been more crucial.

Addressing this need, Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board spokesman Doug Harbach championed a more cautious approach, saying “We intend to move as quickly as possible, but at the same time remember that our role is to protect the public, so we're not going to unleash sports betting in the Commonwealth until we have this right."

Interestingly, no mention is made in the regulations of the so called category 4 ‘mini casinos’ which has been so successful in generating initial licensing revenue for the state. This may change. However, if Pennsylvania commences with the second round of licence auctions for the remaining five mini casino licences currently up for grabs.

The chief beneficiaries of the temporary regulations would most likely be the SugarHouse Casino, Parx Casino and Harrah’s in Philadelphia, Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh and Penn National’s Hollywood Casino, all of which have the knowhow and financial clout to make sports betting a reality.


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