The long-awaited launch of online gambling begins today in Pennsylvania. Online casinos and poker sites were scheduled for a July 15th launch and that day has finally come with two casino sites launching today and one more on Wednesday:
- Parx Casino
- Hollywood Casino
- SugarHouse Casino
All three will hold a short-term testing period during which they will only be live for limited hours. If the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) is satisfied after two days of limited availability, all three will be given the go-ahead for commence 24-hour operations.
Online poker still hasn’t been given the green light, and there have been sporadic reports of players having difficulty signing up, but that isn’t particularly surprising given the troubles other states experienced when launching online gaming.
New Jersey had issues with geolocation and payments back in 2013, and West Virginia was stung when its first online sportsbook suddenly ceased operations due to an internal dispute. These things come with a learning curve, and Pennsylvania’s online casinos will iron out any kinks in time.
Parx Casino Online
Parx Online Casino began a two-day testing period today with limited hours on Monday and Tuesday while the PGCB monitors all goings on. If all goes according to plan, PGCB regulators will sign off on Parx Online moving to 24/7 operations beginning Wednesday.
Hours of operation this week:
- Monday: 2 PM to 10 PM
- Tuesday: 2PM to 12 AM
- Wednesday onward: 24/7
Parx Casino is launching with a $500 bonus for new customers who make a deposit and use the promo code PARX500.
At launch, Parx Casino boasts a collection of 42 games. 40 of these are slots and two are variations of roulette. This is not exactly a mind-blowing variety of games, but that is to be expected during this early stage. More games will be added in due time.
Parx Casino also launched online sports betting last month through the Parx PA website and mobile Android apps.
Legal gaming sites have had issues dealing with Apple of late, but Parx officials say an iPhone app is coming soon for sports and casino gaming.
Hollywood Casino Online
Hollywood Online Casino was first to the punch in PA and began services at 11 AM this morning with a similar collection of 40 or so games – mostly slots. The
- Monday: Starting at 11 AM
- Tuesday: Starting at 10 AM
- Wednesday onward: 24/7
Hollywood Casino is also approved for mobile sports betting but has given no timeline on when that will get underway.
Wednesday: SugarHouse Online Casino
SugarHouse Online will go live on Wednesday for a two-day testing period of its own and 24/7 operations after that if all runs smoothly.
SugarHouse (soon to be renamed Rivers Casino) already operates online gambling and sports betting in New Jersey. The New Jersey site offers hundreds of games, but don’t be surprised to see SugarHouse PA launch with a much more modest offering in Pennsylvania at first.
The Path to Legal Online Gambling in PA
Nine casinos applied for online gambling licenses last July and some of the first approvals were issued the following month. Harrah’s Philadelphia, Parx Casino and Mount Airy Resort Casino were among the first to be approved last August.
Hollywood Casino was approved for online gambling in September and SugarHouse Online was approved in October.
With nine casinos interested in offering online gambling and three launching this week, look for more to jump in soon. None of the remaining approved casinos will be content letting the competition get too much of a head start into the new space.
Pennsylvania has been a bit slower than expected with online gambling being legalized in January 2018 and the first casinos just now going online. The PGCB did seem to take its sweet time, but the Department of Justice decision to suddenly reverse course on the Wire Act this January did not help move things along, either.
The Wire Act still hangs out there as a potential disrupter, but a recent ruling against the new opinion has helped shore up some of the uncertainty surrounding the industry. With states across the nation pursuing online gambling, sports betting or both, all the momentum is moving against the Wire Act.