Both Draftkings & PokerStars Coming to Pennsylvania
DraftKings will become Pennsylvania’s sixth online sportsbook when it debuts on Monday.
Rumors of the launch have been circulating for months and it was finally confirmed when the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) approved DraftKings‘ PA sports betting license on Wednesday
The operator’s Chief Compliance Officer said in a statement:
“DraftKings is excited to receive our sports wagering operator license, moving us one step closer to bringing our top-rated online and mobile Sportsbook app to sports fans in Pennsylvania. Working in partnership with the outstanding team at Penn National Gaming, we expect the mandatory soft-play period to begin on Nov. 4 toward the goal of an official public launch a few days later.”
DraftKings’ Pennsylvania partners
This launch has come about as a result of two partner agreements. Firstly, a market access agreement signed in July with Penn National Gaming, which owns the Hollywood and Meadows casinos in the state.
In August, DraftKings signed an extension deal with sports platform provider Kambi, which included agreements for eight additional states, including Pennsylvania.
A DraftKings-branded retail sportsbook opened for businesses at The Meadows on October 10th, becoming the 12th physical sportsbook to open in Pennsylvania and the first south of Pittsburgh.
Draftkings looks to build on New Jersey success
DraftKings is already proving one of the strongest performers for sports betting in New Jersey, where it has an established presence both online and at Resorts Atlantic City.
By moving into Pennsylvania, it is joining a nascent market with the potential to outgrow that of the Garden State, and indeed Nevada, given the size of the state’s population.
Pennsylvania lawmakers created what former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently described as a “rolling dumpster fire” of sports betting regulations when setting the tax rate operators have to pay on betting revenue at 36%.
To put that into context, the tax rate in New Jersey is 13% (8.5% for retail), while in Indiana, which also allows statewide mobile wagering, it’s just 9.5%.
Yet that hasn’t proved a barrier for operators and following on from the launch of the first mobile app, SugarHouse, in May 2019, a further four have have quickly followed: Rivers (Rush Street Interactive), Parx, FanDuel and FOX Bet.
So far FanDuel is obliterating the competition, taking around 45% ($88.5 million) of all sports bets placed in PA in September and holding on for more than a third of the state’s revenue.
Clearly there is a huge appetite amongst bettors and the arrival of DraftKings, a long-time rival of FanDuel and the top DFS provider in PA since launching in 2018, is certain to ramp-up the vibrant market even further.
PokerStars ready to roll
Monday November 4th could have added significance for the Pennsylvania gaming industry as, subject to final testing by the PGCB, it will become the fourth US state to have legal online poker, with PokerStars set for a soft launch.
That was meant to happen back in July, to coincide with the start of the WSOP Main Event, but things didn’t go to plan, much to the frustration of the local poker community.
However, Douglas Harbach, a spokesman for the PGCB, signalled an end to the long wait at a meeting earlier this week.
“We have staff prepared to initiate and oversee a test launch this Monday of another online casino gaming site, this one licensed under Mount Airy Casino and their suite of casino-type games. At this juncture, it would include the testing of a poker game. The caveat is always that if issues come up, then the beginning of the testing could slide.”
As it stands, just three states, Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey, have licensed poker sites in operation, meaning 47 states haven’t. So the addition of Pennsylvania is a welcome step in the right direction.
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