Casinos In Pennsylvania Go to Auction Again With Mini-Casinos

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The state of Pennsylvania has been campaigning aggressively to establish gambling as a top generator of money for them. And the Keystone State indeed has become #2 in the country for commercial casino revenue. But casinos in PA have had a difficult time unloading a pre-determined number of “mini-casino” licenses, which are otherwise known as Category 4 licenses.

But Casinos In PA are going to try again.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will once again commence auctions on these “Cat 4” casino licenses on September 4, although no one is quite sure as to what the demand is going to be.

The original state gaming law allowed for ten of these mini-casinos to operate. Indeed, the casinos in PA allow the holders to deploy as many as 750 slot machines and 40 table games, not to mention the right to conduct a sports betting operation. The licenses can only be awarded to the owners of the twelve larger Pennsylvania casinos, in addition to a 13th that is currently under construction. And the minimum bid on the “Cat 4” licenses id $7.5 million.

The problem is that they were only able to auction off five licenses previously (the first one will be opened by Penn National Gaming in 2020). So they dropped any attempts to auction off any more. Now they have decided to take another swing at it.

One of the factors that might make things less desirable about these mini-casino licenses is that there are geographical restrictions on them. For instance, none of them can be within 40 miles of an existing or prospective casino location. That essentially takes them out of the bigger Pennsylvania markets. It would appear that the board is looking to encourage operators to look toward “off-markets” in order to affect wider coverage throughout the state.

But there has not been a lot of early interest. Perhaps one reason that contributes to it is that the $7.5 million – or whatever the winning bid is – does not guarantee a casino operator to be licensed; just that they have to right to apply.

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The Auction Period

And state representative Jim Marshall, chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee, has indicated that if no one steps up, the auction period for mini casinos in PA is simply going to close.

Meanwhile, it’s been almost two years since the state of Pennsylvania legalized online casinos, and now there are a couple of operators ready to do testing of their platforms.

Penn National and Parx will introduce it in a “soft launch” phase, and then quickly move on to full 24/7 operations as early as next Monday. There is at least one more operator who will be doing so, and some people who have covered this situation suspects it could be Rush Street Gaming, which owns a pair of land-based casinos – the Rivers and the SugarHouse. In all, there are a dozen operators who have applied for online casinos in Pennsylvania.

There are already online sports betting in the state, and everybody is anxious to get involved in it. Stadium Casino’s “Live!” project in Philadelphia was originally not going to have a sportsbook at all, but now they have changed their mind, and will, in fact, have sports betting when it opens in December.

On another front. one vendor, Unibet Interactive, which is based out of Malta and has been in the online gaming business for quite some time, has gotten conditional approval by the Pennsylvania board to operate online sports betting and casinos. Their licensed partner is the Mohegan Sun Pocono, in Wilkes-Barre which intends to roll out the sportsbook in the fall.

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Casinos In Pennsylvania Go to Auction Again With Mini-Casinos
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Casinos In Pennsylvania Go to Auction Again With Mini-Casinos
The state of Pennsylvania has been campaigning aggressively to establish casinos in PA & online sports betting as a top generator of money for them.
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