By Ken Edwards, 11 November 2018 On October 31, Pennsylvania State lawmakers approved three more Pennsylvania Online casinos to run sports betting operations, including the SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia, which has announced that it intends to start taking its first legal sports betting wagers on December 1. In the process, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board also approved sports betting licenses for Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh (also scheduled to begin operation December 1) and Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack. Harrah’s is yet to announce their start date for legal sports betting. At the time of writing, only five of the 13 casino license holders in the state of Pennsylvania have made applications for sports betting licenses and those that have, all have been rapidly approved. The first two licenses were issued to Hollywood Casino in Dauphin County and Parx Casino in Bensalem. Parx Casino has already announced their intentions to start taking legal sports bets sometime before the end of November 2018. Pennsylvania’s Online Players also Benefit At the same meeting, the Gaming Control Board for the state also approved two new casinos in Pennsylvania. Regulators unanimously approved both Presque Isle Downs, Inc. in Erie PA, and Stadium Casino LLC, pushing the online gaming industry ever closer to going live and supplying fully-serviced online gambling for the state’s players. Pennsylvania slots licensees were originally allowed to purchase permits to offer online slots, online poker and online table games, all for a flat $10 million fee. Following a grace window of several months, PA casinos then had the option of buying certificates for $4 million for each online gaming type. A sports betting license, which includes mobile wagering, is considered to be a separate item with a $10 million price tag. With the exclusivity window for Pennsylvanian operators to buy licenses now closed, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board opened up the process to out-of-state entities such as MGM Resorts. The regulatory board has already approved real money online casino games licenses for the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, the Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, Harrah’s Mount Airy Casino Resort in the Poconos, Sands Bethlehem and SugarHouse. None of the license recipients have begun live online casino games operations, as equipment must be tested and firstly pass a thorough and strict state regulatory inspection. The Presque Downs & Stadium Casino Operations Representatives of the Presque Isle Downs establishment came to the Halloween meeting to present their plans in what online gaming options they want to offer to their clients. Presque Isle Downs & Casino will be offering both online casino and sports betting, hopefully by years end in New Jersey, and they also have plans for Pennsylvania. The company has a partnership agreement with the Golden Nugget in New Jersey. Insofar as their Pennsylvania operations, Presque Isle Downs wants to offer sports betting, online slots and table games, but as yet has not expressed an interest in online poker betting options. It’s refreshing to hear that Presque Isle Downs would like to offer traditional casino games online as well as Live Dealer Casino options to supply its players with the atmosphere of a bricks-and-mortar casino from the comfort of their own homes. The online gaming platform of Presque Downs will be driven by SB Tech gaming software, with integrated responsible gaming software. Via their ‘Reality Checks’ program, players will be supplied a popup, allowing them to know how long they have been online, thereby promoting responsible gaming. As for Stadium Casino, representatives gave no details on what would be offered. Without a current land-based venue, it could be some time before online gaming is developed.