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Pennsylvania Casinos’ Interest in Sports Betting Is Increasing – Harrah’s Philadelphia Applies for a License

- September 26, 2018 By Oliver Young -

Even though Pennsylvania’s casinos did not show enthusiasm for sports betting in the past few months, the license application by Harrah’s Philadelphia signifies progress.

Even though Pennsylvania’s casinos did not show enthusiasm for sports betting in the past few months, the license application by Harrah’s Philadelphia signifies progress.

Hollywood Casino and Parx Casino have another member joining the team of first applicants for sports betting license, the Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino. Harrah’s is interested in applying for land-based, online and mobile sports betting license and permission for retail.

The third applicant for a sports betting license is willing to pay the $10 million to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for the application. Even though the time of approval is unknown, Harrah’s Philadelphia will wait for as long as it takes. Its parent company, Caesars Entertainment, already offers sports betting in New Jersey, in both online and physical form. In the petition, Harrah’s states that it will supply sports wagering equipment from Scientific Games.

In comparison to other casinos which have not shown even the slightest interest in applying for licensing due to tax and fee rate, these three powerful Keystone State casinos have made the first step. But what impeded others to apply?

The Fees and Taxes Concern

After many bill discussions on online gambling, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board gave the green light to 13 casinos to apply for a permit on April 16. But there was a catch. The Board, as part of its regulations, added two rather weighty provisions – 36% tax and $10 million licensing fee.

The tax and the fee are far more onerous than the ones the neighboring state’s casinos have to pay to get a license. For instance, in New Jersey and West Virginia, casino operators pay $100,000, which is barely 1% of the $10 million figure the Pennsylvania casinos have to pay.

Then again, Rhode Island casinos pay the highest rate, but the state provides a significant level of support to the casinos to justify that rate.

Despite the tax and the fee, Parx and Hollywood applied for a license. As of recently, Harrah’s has applied as well.

Harrah’s Joining Suggests Progress

It is most probable that Harrah’s has applied for a license due to the competitive pressure from Parx and Hollywood. Even though there was no instant spike in interest, a third applicant most certainly means progress.

With the things moving fast in the online gambling market, Harrah’s probably wants to become the first in the sports betting market, as soon as it starts progressing at a faster rate. With licenses for online table games, poker and slots, other casinos in Pennsylvania could quickly catch up on the sports betting as well. So, Harrah’ must have recognized the need to become the leader of them all. The moment Parx and Hollywood get the logistics they need, they will dive into the sports betting without looking back. Harrah’s management must know that, hence, the application.

Nevertheless, the competitive pressure will get to other casinos as well, and they will be obliged to throw their hats in the ring, also. Having in mind that the upcoming Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board meeting is on 3rd of October, we may as well witness other casinos changing their minds, too.

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