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They enter the Keystone State without a tie to a land-based casino. A Pennsylvania state law that passed in 2018 allows the Gaming Control Board (PGCB) to issue certificates to qualified gaming entities (QGE), which is defined as companies active in online casino wagering in other US states or foreign countries.
PA has three certificates for slot providers, three for table game operators, and four for peer-to-peer poker apps. BetMGM will also offer slots and table games. The certificates cost $4 million each.
BetMGM Adam Greenblatt CEO said the company was excited to launch in the state. All players will be able to register or connect with BetMGM “M Life Rewards” membership with their iGaming account. That will enable them to earn perks that can be used at MGM Resort properties anywhere across the country. Now including Pennsylvania, BetMGM also offers online gaming in New Jersey, Nevada, and West Virginia.
With more than 140 different games, including our own in-house progressive jackpot network, we’re delivering the widest range of content currently available in the state,” he said. “Alongside MGM Resorts and its M life Rewards program, BetMGM will provide players with a truly unique entertainment experience.
Considering BetMGM’s size and current stature in the marketplace, their entry into Pennsylvania comes rather late. More than a year after other significant operators have obtained a footing. This is likely due to the company’s strategic decision to partner with New Jersey’s Borgata casino, owned by MGM Resorts, instead of with a local property. Borgata, in association with Golden Nugget, obtained their QGE for the PCGB.
BetMGM recently reversed that decision, though it is unclear why. Instead of launching on the Borgata’s certificate, it has partnered with Hollywood Casino, owned by Penn National Gaming.
The more usual scenario is for operators to launch new online casinos and sportsbooks simultaneously as was the custom for BetMGM in New Jersey. Regarding Pennsylvania, BetMGM is a stand-alone casino app, therefore for now that might not change and will be re-evaluated soon.
The downside faced by a QGE and in this case, BetMGM is they cannot offer sports betting in PA. However, launching another partnering certificate may offer an opportunity. Certificate holders can launch up to three iGaming skins apiece. Only one online sportsbook is allowed per casino.
The upside is BetMGM can also offer poker either way. On Borgata’s certificate or on Penn National’s. That decision has yet to be made but the company does have a BetMGM poker skin operating live on the Partypoker New Jersey network. That is owned by GVC. When the decision is made, and poker is launched in Pennsylvania it is assumed it will be a Partypoker site.
BetMGM seems to issue a new press release every other day, securing a venture into a new US state or an association with a new professional sports team.
Last week’s headlines introduced BetMGM as the first Gaming Partner of the Pittsburgh Steelers. That followed a previous week having the company join DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel helping to establish astonishing new online wagering figures to begin sports betting in Tennessee.
To help problem gamblers, BetMGM is working with PlayPause, a new software tool offering self-exclusion protection as players move from state to state, rather than being limited to the state in which they are currently based.
It is likely before the end of 2020 we will be announcing more updates and reading more news regarding the rise of BetMGM throughout the US.
Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
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