Getting Under the Skin of Online Gambling in PA
The PGCB has approved several new online gambling regulations, including how many skins can be used per license.
Earlier this year online gambling was legalized in the state of Pennsylvania with it following in the steps of New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada. But while the initial act legalizing online gambling in Pennsylvania covers many important areas, it seems as if the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) failed to deal with several vital and contentious issues.
In response to these rather glaring omissions, the PGCB has recently approved several new online gambling regulations. One of the most notable additions has to do with how many “skins” legal online casinos in Pennsylvania can create using a single gambling license.
What is a Skin?
The simplest way to explain what a casino skin is to compare it to our skin. While on the inside we all have the same organs and other vital bits, online casinos generally have the same software programs that dictate how they work. All humans have the same organs, however, on the outside, we all look quite different – just like online casinos. Essentially, the skin incorporates the online casino’s branding, way it looks, feels and plays.
The new temporary regulations state that online casinos in Pennsylvania, who are license holders, may operate “multiple” skins IF they clearly show a relationship with a land-based casino and operate the skins through that casino’s domain.
According to the new regulations:
“Chapter 818 provides clarification that the Board may authorize interactive gaming certificate holders or interactive gaming operator licensees operating an interactive gaming system on behalf of an interactive gaming certificate holder to deploy interactive gaming skins or interactive gaming websites, that clearly identify the interactive gaming certificate holder or an entity within the interactive gaming certificate holder’s organizational structure, on the display screen visible to players.”
Essentially, to operate a skin, the operators must be functionally tied to a casino web domain or some entity owned by the land-based casino:
“Interactive gaming operator licensees are not permitted to offer interactive games in this Commonwealth independent from an interactive gaming certificate holder and the interactive gaming certificate holder’s webpage or the webpage of an entity within the interactive gaming certificate holder’s organizational structure.”
It then goes on to say:
“Interactive gaming certificate holders and interactive gaming operator licensees acting on behalf of an interactive gaming certificate holder may only offer interactive gaming in this Commonwealth through the interactive gaming certificate holder’s webpage or the webpage of an entity within the interactive gaming certificate holder’s organizational structure.”
What this basically means is that to have a skin for an online casino in Pennsylvania, the operator must ensure that it prominently displays the name of the traditional land-based casino under whose license the skin is running. So, if it is running under the license of the Borgata, the skin must make this very clear in visual terms.
What is confusing is that the new regulations are meant to outline how many skins operators can use per license but have actually defined the number as “multiple”.
Nothing in this section is intended to prohibit interactive gaming certificate holders/operator licensees from entering into interactive gaming operation agreements with multiple licensed interactive gaming operators to offer interactive games the Board has authorized the interactive gaming certificate holder to conduct.
Now that the issue of skins and legal online casinos in PA has finally been put to rest, we can expect to several announcements relating to:
- Land-based licenses who haven’t announced if they intend to pursue an online gambling license clarify their intentions, and
- Land-based licenses, potential brand partners, and platform providers will start dishing out the operational agreements.
With regulations relating to online gambling in PA now significantly clearer, we are likely to see the industry of online gambling and online casinos in Pennsylvania boom and grow exponentially.
Read the new regulations in its entirety here.
Watch this space for the latest on states legalizing sports betting and online casinos.