BetMGM Begins Online Casino Soft Launch Period in Pennsylvania

  • The soft launch has limited hours and games for three days
  • If everything goes well, BetMGM’s online casino will launch in full on December 4
  • BetMGM is eyeing a Pennsylvania sportsbook launch in 2020, but it is not yet clear how
Welcome to Pennsylvania street sign
BetMGM initiated the three-day mandatory soft launch of its online casino in Pennsylvania, expecting a full, live launch on Friday. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Three-day test run

BetMGM started the three-day real-money soft launch of its first online casino in Pennsylvania on Tuesday. Mandated by state regulations, the soft launch is a limited, public test run before the full launch later this week. The hours for the site are 2pm-10pm December 1, 10am-8pm December 2, and 10am-10pm December 3.

the Keystone’s State’s 13th interactive casino

If all goes according to plan, the BetMGM Pennsylvania online casino will go live on Friday, December 4, making it the Keystone’s State’s 13th interactive casino. While the site has kicked off with just a few games for the soft launch period, the full rollout expected for Friday may bring more variety.

ROAR Digital, a shared venture between GVC Holdings (soon rebranding to Entain) and MGM Resorts International, operates BetMGM. Representatives of all three brands have so far kept tight-lipped about the pre-launch, with an official announcement expected later this week.

Promos and partnering pains

BetMGM is offering Pennsylvania bettors a $25 free play welcome offer and a 100% deposit match up to $1,000. Also on offer is a Pennsylvania launch sweepstakes promotion, where players earn entries for every $20 wagered on slots or table games. The drawing for a “luxury pickup truck valued at $32,750” is on December 8.

presence in Pennsylvania is purely casino-focused

For the moment, BetMGM’s online presence in Pennsylvania is purely casino-focused. Typically, leading sportsbooks like BetMGM launch their interactive casinos and sportsbooks simultaneously. This is precisely what the ROAR-powered brand did in New Jersey on September 6, following up with its live casino games in November. There are a number of reasons why BetMGM has not followed suit in Pennsylvania.

The key factor revolves around BetMGM’s initial decision to partner with the MGM-owned Borgata casino in New Jersey rather than a Pennsylvania property. Borgata received what the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) terms a “qualified gaming entity (QGE)” certificate, which enabled eligible operators of out-of-state casinos to grab the outstanding gaming licenses that in-state operators opted not to claim.

But BetMGM then left Borgata standing at the altar in Pennsylvania, deciding instead to partner with Penn National-owned Hollywood Casino at Penn National Racecourse.

Sports betting future not crystal clear

Despite launching on Hollywood’s certification, it is still unclear how BetMGM intends to get its online sportsbook up and running in the state. And if BetMGM is going to put its money where its mouth is – following its Pittsburgh Steelers partnership last week complete with an announcement that it was targeting a Pennsylvania betting launch in 2020 – it’s going to have to get its skates on.

Launching on Hollywood’s certification seems to do BetMGM no favors. While the QGE certificate permits holders to launch up to three iGaming skins each, it only allows for only one online sportsbook per certificate. Hollywood launched its own online sportsbook in September.

Poker might also be in the cards for BetMGM, although the company hasn’t revealed when this might happen. ROAR Digital operates partypoker in neighboring New Jersey, with PokerStars currently the only online poker room operating in Pennsylvania since November 2019.