MGM, Golden Nugget Apply for Pennsylvania Online Gaming Licenses
3 November 2018
PokerBrave (1115 articles)

With the Pennsylvania casinos finished with submitting their applications for interactive gaming licenses (most have been approved at this point), operators from outside the state – “qualified gaming entities” – were permitted to file their own applications for the leftover licensing slots from October 15th to October 30th. Unless we hear otherwise, it appears that only two did so: MGM and Golden Nugget.

Application Overview to This Point

As we have discussed before, the thirteen Pennsylvania casinos got first dibs on filing petitions for applications. Three different applications types are available: online poker, online table games, and online slots. Each application costs $4 million (that’s just the application fee, mind you), though any operator who applied for all three licenses by the July 16th deadline could pay $10 million combined.

Ten casinos applied for all three, while Presque Isle Downs filed for just table games and slots, not poker. That meant, assuming all applications were approved, 32 licenses were spoken for. Rivers casino, though, decided to withdraw its applications and Stadium Casino tossed its poker application back. Thus, 28 licenses will be claimed by Pennsylvania casinos, leaving 11 up for grabs: 5 online poker, 3 online table games, and 3 online slots.

MGM applied for all three licenses at a cost of $12 million (qualified gaming entities were not eligible for the discount), while Golden Nugget didn’t apply for poker.

The way the process works from here is that every outside qualified gaming entity that is approved is put into a lottery. Operators are then randomly selected to fill out the remaining licensing slots. If MGM and Golden Nugget are, in fact, the only outside operators who applied, that means both will automatically get the licenses they want as long as they are approved (one would think they will be).

MGM, Golden Nugget Coming from Different Angles

Both MGM and Golden Nugget have a presence in neighboring New Jersey. Despite the fact that MGM is the bigger name, Golden Nugget has dominated that market so far. To illustrate, Golden Nugget brought in $9.3 million in internet gaming revenue in September compared to MGM’s (Borgata) $4.6 million. Caesars also had over $4 million. None of Golden Nugget’s revenue, though, is from online poker; all of it is from online casino games.

Getting online gaming licenses in Pennsylvania itself means that Golden Nugget wouldn’t have to piggyback on anybody’s license to try to enter the market. The most likely scenario for that would have been a partnership with Rush Street Gaming, as Rush Street uses Golden Nugget’s license in New Jersey for its SugarHouse products.

Since Golden Nugget doesn’t have online poker in New Jersey, it naturally makes sense that it would ignore that product in Pennsylvania. MGM does have online poker in New Jersey with the Party-Borgata Network, so it is going to be getting into it in Pennsylvania, hoping that the two states eventually link up in an interstate liquidity sharing agreement. One would think they would, as the more potential players for poker (and for other games, for that matter), the more tax revenue a state can generate.