Pennsylvania Online Gambling Market Going Live on July 15

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) and its executive director Kevin O’Toole announced this week that online gambling operators licensed to do business in the state will be able to launch casino and poker products this summer.

The necessary legislation was greenlighted back in October 2017, while the regulated online casino ad poker market will be up and running on July 15. Of course, the outcome might be different if the federal Department of Justice prevails in court.

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Getting Ready for the Launch

The licensees have already been approved: 10 online gaming certificate holders – which are the Keystone State’s land-based venues, and 3 online gaming operators, which serve as the casino’ technology partners, will go live on the same day to make sure that all have fair conditions.

If everything goes according to plans, Pennsylvania would become the fourth state to have launched online gambling. So far, only Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey have done so. It should be noted that West Virginia has also recently approved a similar piece of legislation, but it won’t be ready to come into effect before June next year.

In addition to the launch of online gambling, Pennsylvania also approved online and mobile sports betting. According to available information, these digital betting operations should be fully operational by the beginning of May.

Awaiting the Court’s Ruling

The launch of online casino and poker in Pennsylvania will depend on the outcome of the legal fight of New Hampshire with the Department of Justice. Back in January, the Department of Justice issued a controversial opinion on the 1961 Wire Act, stating this piece of legislation included not only sports betting but other forms of gambling as well.

Soon after, the PGCB directed the state’s online licensees to make sure they complied with the new opinion. And although the situation with the interstate poker liquidity sharing is clear, as this represents a definite breach of the Wire Act, no one seems to know what will happen to the majority of operations, including the processing of payments, since they include some form of out-of-state data routing.

Last month, the Department of Justice issued another statement, saying it would delay the enforcement of the new opinion until mid-June. According to them, this will give more time to online operators across the country to bring their online operations into compliance.

A little over a week ago, the two parties met in federal court, where Judge Paul Barbadoro gave the Department of Justice 14 days to clarify its position on the new opinion. Before the hearing took place, the Department of Justice announced the revised opinion of the Wire Act didn’t include state lotteries, although they also relied on out-of-state data traffic to offer their products.

Statements made by Judge Barbadoro suggest that a court ruling could be applied only on New Hampshire, requiring other states to file their own lawsuits against the revised opinion of the Department of Justice.

Whatever the ruling may be, it is clear that the losing will appeal. Even Barbadoro himself said he believed the case would eventually be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court – which overturned PASPA last year, lifting the federal ban on sports betting.