Online Wagering Inside Land-Based Casinos Remains Banned in Pennsylvania

As casinos are obtaining licensing approvals for online gaming in Pennsylvania, the new industry is that much closer to launching. Once fully operational, online gamblers in the state will be able to enjoy casino games from anywhere they like via the internet, except inside licensed casinos.  

In 2017, an expanded gaming law was passed in Pennsylvania that legalized several areas of new gaming, including online casino and poker options. One area in which the state differed from others regarding the passage of iGaming was that it will be blocking gamblers from taking part in online game play inside the state’s licensed casinos.

Operators will have to use geolocation technology to ensure gaming is kept within the borders of Pennsylvania as well as outside of the land-based casinos in the state.

Now, with online gaming even closer to starting, the ban remains in place. Pennsylvania is also preparing to launch sports betting, which will include mobile wagering, but no ban has been placed on accessing the activity in casinos.

Why ban online gaming in casinos?

When the ban first materialized, it was believed that the exclusion was created to protect tax revenues. The tax rate for online betting was originally set at a lower rate than that of casino wagering. Eventually, the tax rate was equalized at 54% for slot machines, in land-based venues and online.

When these changes were made, it was expected that the online ban in casinos might be done away with. However, that was not the case.

Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment Inc.’s chief executive Tony Ricci said: “It probably slipped through in the final version. Frankly, it is quirky now when you look at it, what the point of it is. It complicates things in many ways.”

At the time when the news of the ban first released, it was suggested that it might have been a bone for the two largest land-based casinos in the state: the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem and the Parx Casino.

According to VSO News, the companies behind the two properties were strongly opposed to online gambling legislation. The ban will somewhat appease the two operators as players will not be able to wager online at other properties while inside their gaming venues.

Only state with casino exclusion

Pennsylvania is currently the only state in the US that has legalized online gaming with this land-based exclusion. Geolocation services will be used to read the numerical address that is assigned to a player’s electronic device and then configure their location within a few feet. This is done by pinging a mobile device.

The software will complete a scan of the device to ensure that no programs are in operation to disguise the user’s location. A virtual private network could be used to change the player’s location, but such scans should detect any programs being used.

Operators in Pennsylvania who are approved for online gaming licensing will need to have their security systems tested by the Gaming Control Board, including their geolocation software.

Sports betting not restricted

It is interesting to note that Pennsylvania did not restrict locations inside the state when it comes to sports betting regulations. Players will be able to wager from mobile devices from anywhere, including inside casinos.

This should bode well for casinos, as those that offer sports betting will find patrons are able to place wagers while they are on site, freeing up betting kiosks and windows during major events, as well as increasing overall sports wagers placed.


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