Pennsylvania (PGCB) Licensed Casinos
All online Casinos with a Pennsylvania (PGCB) Gambling License
Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Casinos
Gambling is a big-time entertainment in Pennsylvania, a docile state in the US. Gambling venues mostly include casinos, lottery, horse racing, and various small games of chance.
Because these are conducted by non-profits they are small and only casinos are the biggest player making big money. It was in October of 2017 that the House passed a bill to legalize online gambling, and since it has become a growing market.
In this article, we look at various laws and regulatory bodies that ensure the sustaining economy due to safe and healthy gambling in the state of Pennsylvania.
With a population of just over 12 million, and governed by a democratic Governor Tom Wolf, the state legalized online casino gambling with a bill passed by the House and signed by Tom Wolf in 2017. The state is officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and is a US state that spans the Mid-Atlantic.
It spreads to the Northeastern front and the Appalachian regions of the United States. This makes it ideal for various types of entertainment outdoors too. The capital is Harrisburg, and the largest city is Philadelphia, famous for the Rocky movie character played by Stallone from Hollywood. Let us see the state of gambling and online casinos in this state today in this short article.
With a minimum salary of USD 7.25 per hour, today in 2023 gambling is a well sought part-time fun and enjoyable way to make some good money. And, this gave rise to the culture of real money betting at online casinos as well as land-based casinos and game parlors with slot machines, table games, card games, and so on.
But, to understand today’s gaming and gambling laws, we need to take a brief dive into the history of gambling in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Gambling History
While the modern notion of introducing legislation to include online casino gambling, and making use of the revenues to clear up the deficit of the state, create more jobs, boost its economy, and so on, history dates back decades. The PA state lottery was one of the first to make way for official gambling in the form of lotteries intended to serve the elderly and curb illegal gambling.
Act 91 of 1971 was a government-run entity used for providing tax relief to the elderly for taxes paid in 1971 to persons 65 and above. Because of the illegal gambling in PA, this lottery system was supposed to curb it as well.
The bill also outlined the procedure for selling tickets, advertisements, and distribution of prizes. And, this resulted in pushing the government further to include even casinos, in the 1980s and 1990s. And, that is how the initial foundation of today’s land-based gambling and online gambling took a foothold in this US state of 12 million people.
While the internet became a thing, the status of online gambling has pushed for further reforms in 2017 as we have mentioned above. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is currently the authority in this field. The first of the major efforts to make this reality took place in Pocono Mountains Resort, and several polls in those areas and the residents were totally against gambling in the 1980s.
They saw it as a hub for criminals and corruption back then, but today things have changed and they have thousands of active players from young to adult age groups.
Pennsylvania Gambling early 90s
Similarly, a push for gambling avenues in riverboats was pushed into legislation in 1993 and 1994, but social experts argued that this would cost Pennsylvania more as tackling crime generated from them would surpass the revenues. Also, legalization would result in corrosive effects on families increasing the number of business failures, child abuse, corruption young generation for making quick money, and even traffic congestion. Also, the riverboat legislation failed as a result of the backslash.
Thus, Pennsylvania’s gambling history marks several failed attempts including a last failed push in 1999. This was approved by the State House back then but then the voter referendum that was allowed would have resulted in having slot machines on four of its horse race tracks, also including riverboats and video poker at taverns.
This legalized casinos and slot machines across racetracks in the state. Horse racing was a viable option for creating more jobs too and revenues gained from these electronic gaming machines were used for providing tax relief, breeding horses, and various other issues. And, now the moral and religious factors became less of a factor or hurdle. During the first year alone, the casinos produced one billion USD in revenue in 2004, adjusted for inflation becomes 1.4 billion USD in 2023. And by the end of 2009, it resulted in tax benefits of 760 million USD to its citizens.
Finally, the success of Act 71 resulted in 2017’s latest legislation and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. The 2017 Pennsylvania Truck Stop and Satellite casino bill created 10 mini-casinos and expanded the bill to include gambling on truck stops, online casinos, airports, and so on. In 2016, the state had created 18,000 permanent jobs in this sector alone and generated roughly 1.4 billion USD in tax benefits.
Gambling Laws in Pennsylvania
When it comes to laws, as we have mentioned above the Act 71, 2017 Truck Stop and Satellite bill are the pioneers that are steering society forward toward making gambling a commonplace in Pennsylvania through racetracks, truck stops, airports, and online casinos too. At the same time, the original legislation called for making just four horse racing tracks have 23 locations along a 35-mile radius.
This was in 1999. Horse racing was the first type of gambling legalized in the state using the Race Horse Industry Reform Act in 1959. This also resulted in many off-track betting starting with Meadows Racetrack.
There are several locations today with legalized gambling in the state in The Downs at Leigh valley, Stroudsburg, Oaks Race, Penn National, and so on. All in all, there are several off-track betting locations as a result of the current legislation of 2017. There are almost a dozen from Penn National at Williamsport, Johnstown, Moon Township and The Meadows at New castle, West Mifflin, and many others.
Casino gambling became legal in 2004 by the passage of the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development, and Gaming Act 2004. As of now, some of these land-based casinos legalized by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board are listed as follows.
- The Downs at Carbondale is affiliated with Mohegan Sun.
- Upper Darby Turf Club is affiliated with Parx.
- The Meadows Greenburg, Meadows affiliation.
- Penn National OTW.
- Valley Forge Casino Resort.
- Bald Eagle Truck Stop.
- Keystone Truck Stop.
Just the casinos alone currently generate approx 3.2 billion USD in tax revenues. There are also hundreds of online casinos available to the citizens because they are available to US states.
Gambling Regulatory Body in Pennsylvania
Among the authorities controlling the operations of gambling websites and casinos in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is the main body. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is a governmental agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania which was founded in 2004 and is the sole body responsible for overseeing gambling activities in the region.
This means slot machines, casinos, and even online gambling websites available to the public. It covers the jurisdiction of Pennsylvania State of the USA and is headquartered at 303 Walnut Street, on the 2nd floor of Strawberry Square, Harrisburg with PIN 17101.
The directors and essential members of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board who contributed a lot early on were David Barasch, the Chair of the commission, and Kevin O’Toole, the Executive Director. Some of its current key members who are operating in 2023 include Denise Smyler, the Chair, Frank Dermody, the Commissioner, Sara Diaz, Commissioner, Stacy Garrity, State Treasurer, and over a dozen executive staff. Kevin O’Toole is still serving in the Executive Director Position and Cyrus Pitre as Chief Enforcement Counsel.
In a recent interview, Kevin O’Toole said “Responsible gambling is a top priority for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.” and this means a lot to understand the vision of the commission in the future. The Office of Compulsive and Problem Gambling within the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board works diligently to offer assistance to individuals who are unable to keep a lid on their gambling and be responsible.
PGCB Mission Statements
Known shortly as PGCB or Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, they are dedicated to following the below mission statements.
- Responsible for laying out fundamental policies, guidelines, and norms for establishing casinos, slot machines, and gambling equipment in the region.
- Formulating laws, taxes, and fees for setting up these businesses in a legal way, and making licenses available to them for the same.
- Heightening public awareness of the dangers of compulsive gambling, intoxication, drugs, and underage gambling.
- Create new rules and policies, monitor activities of the current gambling establishments, check their equipment, fair gaming rules, and strict control.
- Establishing education material for all ages and residents and developing programs for the same.
- Ensuring that every casino is legal, and every casino license and iGaming certificate holder is established and complies with the approved gambling policies.
The gambling control body, PGCB or Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is guided by the Gaming Act and supported by a dedicated team of professional staff. They try their best to protect the interest of people, and the public by ensuring the integrity of legalized gambling through the thorough enforcement of the law.
The law, regulations, and the licensing of qualified individuals and business entities fulfilling the objectives of the legalized gambling industry in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to constantly deliver a significant source of revenue, income, and taxes. This is supposed to assist their horse racing industry, and also provide broad opportunities for economic development and enhance tourism as well.
Gambling License Provisions in Pennsylvania
As of 2023, Pennsylvania and PGCB have laid out some revisions in their policies. In 2017, the legislature passed House Bill 271 and this significantly extended the rights and authority of the board and also gaming and gambling permits and activities in the state. These divided the provisions and gambling activities into 4 categories.
- 1st Category 1 license or license for racetrack casinos.
- 2nd Category 2 license for standalone casinos.
- 3rd Category 3 licenses for resort casinos.
- 4th Category 4 licenses for ancillary casinos.
Category 1 License
The Category 1 licenses are awarded to the racetrack facilities following payment of USD 50 million, and as per Section 1302 of Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, such category licensed casinos should not be inside 20 miles. This is governed by the Horse Racing Commission and also Harness Racing Commission. Category 1 casinos also have to pay USD 16.5 million which is not refundable to operate table-top games.
Category 2 License
The Category 2 licenses are for standalone casinos that award great benefits by operating slot machines and are subject to an initial fee of USD 50 million only. These are subject to a three-year renewal as well and these establishments must comply with Pennsylvania Public Law 705. Something must be noted as well such as a Category 2 licensed business must not be located within 30 miles of a Category 1 casino facility. The Category 2 casino can also submit a petition to operate table games with payment of non-refundable USD 7.5 million.
Category 3 License
The third type of license awarded by PGCB or Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is the Category 3 license which allows resort-style avenues and facilities to operate slot machines, and these establishments are subjected to an initial payment of USD 5 million. As per the Gaming Act, any individual is eligible only if they have a holding company approved by the Category 1 or Category 2 license and if the category three facilities like a hotel or resort are at least a well-established franchise with a minimum of 275 person guest rooms. It should also have year-round recreational facilities to be awarded a PGCB license. Because of these demands, very few qualify for this.
Finally, PGCB can auction only up to 10 Category 4 licenses making it a big factor. These are also known as mini or satellite casino licenses and to date; the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has approved five Category 4 licenses in its jurisdiction. Because these establishments should have at least 300 slot machines and 30 table games, they can’t be within 30 miles of Category1 to 3 licensed establishments.
As of protecting underage and compulsive gamblers from the side effects, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has opened several forums. One of them is ResponsiblePlay.pa.gov which we have already mentioned above. They work together to give the public hassle-free gambling that earns good revenue.
There are ways to offer no-cost treatment to the needy as well. Gambling is a form of recreation and real money betting should not become an addiction. All casinos and gambling sites are strictly monitored for violations of responsible gambling policies designed by the PGCB. The board also has the right to terminate any of its licenses in case of pitfalls or malpractices.
Further, the Pennsylvania Criminal Code makes any form of gambling that is not licensed or passed by the legislature of the Gaming Act and laws under Section 5513 illegal. This is also important to note that this statute focuses on the actions of gaming operators and not players. Violation of this law is a misdemeanor and you may need lawyers’ help. But, some of the exempted bodies that can operate these legally are as follows.
- Pennsylvania Horse Racing Development & Gaming Act
- Act 7 of (H.B. 941, 2016 Pa. Gen. Assemb., Reg. Sess. (Pa. 2016))
- Expanded Gaming Act of (H.B. 271, 2017 Pa. Gen. Assemb., Reg. Sess. (Pa. 2017))
- Lottery Law of State
- The Local Option Small Games of Chance Act
- Bingo Law of (10 Pa. Laws sections 301 et seq)
These laws together govern a safe and secure gambling operation that does not harm the society and public. The body of Responsible Play under PGCB regularly creates programs to create awareness among the public to see it as a good and fruitful endeavor.
Obtaining a Gambling License in Pennsylvania
Both online and land-based gambling does not have any specific definitions. So, all the licenses are awarded by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board alone subject to their eligibility as per the four categories discussed above. Each specific type of license demands some fulfilling criteria, payment, and processing fee. They have a usual renewal period of three years, but more is the merrier.
The PGCB has a Bureau of Licensing that takes charge of all the activities. It handles matters of license awarding, and renewal, for casinos and also all forms of today’s modern online gaming too. It has further different departments to handle other things like the Bureau of Gaming Laboratories and Office of Information Technology, Bureau of Investigations and Office of Enforcement Counsel, Bureau of Gaming Operations, and so on.
There is also a State Horse Racing Commission or Racing Commission that awards licenses for the racing industry and oversees various developmental activities including jockey welfare, track licensing, wagering, pari-mutuel betting, and more. This Racing Commission was established by Act 7 in 2016.
Pennsylvania Lottery Burea handles licensing for lotteries. There are various types of gambling products that need licensing to operate. These are poker, betting, sports betting, casino games, slot machines, bingo, terminal-based games, lottery, and online games. Licenses are thus awarded for the following.
- Sports betting
- Slot machines
- Video game terminals
- Airport gaming terminals
- Small venue gambling
Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Certified Casinos
Some of these certified casinos and gambling venues in Pennsylvania, certified by PGCB are as follows. They include all types of gambling in the state and not just social or online gambling websites.
- Rivers Casino Pittsburg
- Mount Airy Casino Resort
- Rivers Casino Philadelphia
- Lady Luck Casino
- Wild Creek Bethlehem
- Valley Forge Casino Resort
- Hollywood Casino at Penn
- National Race Course
- BetMGM is the best overall brand here, offers good value and gambling.
- Betway has the bet online and mobile gambling experience.
- Borgata Casino is best for bonuses and promotions that attract users.
- Unibet is a great casino for live dealer games and live casino.
- Twin Spires is best for horse racing online sports betting.
Gambling activities and certified casinos make up a great chunk of Pennsylvania’s annual revenue, and this has helped them keep the culture sprawling more in recent years.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has a lot of things going on. There are several gambling monitoring bodies for different types of games and licensing duties. Pennsylvania is a great place for gambling operators though at very high expenses for licensing and taxes.
One must take control of these avenues and bet responsibly. The online casinos have huge offerings and so do land-based gaming activities. The state sponsors them and also offers help for compulsive gambling victims. In all, it is a flourishing state with proper gambling laws and policing for criminal activities.
Pennsylvania (PGCB) Licensed Casinos FAQ
It varies from a few million USD to 50 million USD.
Yes, if you have a proper license. Gambling operators are criminalized not players.