Golden Nugget wants to join the Pennsylvania online gambling market.

The Atlantic City casino filed a petition with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) as a qualified gaming entity (QGE). The filing came just as the deadline for applicants was about to expire.

That makes two New Jersey casinos looking to spread their wings into neighboring PA: Golden Nugget and MGM, owners of the Borgata.

Pennsylvania had three different online licenses available:

  • Slot machines
  • Table games
  • Poker

Each license costs $4 million. Golden Nugget is petitioning for online slot machines and online table games only.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that it will forgo the online poker license. It does not offer online poker in New Jersey, and the industry has been struggling of late.

The PA online gaming market

Originally, there were 39 licenses available, 13 in each of the three categories. The licenses initially were open to the 13 PA casinos. After the dust settled, 11 licenses were still available.

The PGCB decided to put those licenses on the market to QGEs. The application deadline for QGEs to petition for a license was Oct. 31.

The PGCB will likely approve Golden Nugget’s and MGM’s request for a total of five of the remaining licenses. The next meeting of the board is Nov. 28.

PA Gov. Tom Wolf signed the gaming expansion law legislation back in October 2017. It is now a year later, and the industry does not have a firm launch timeline.

Many experts are predicting the first half of 2019 as a reliable target. No doubt, having two experienced online casinos join the fray will be a boon to the nascent PA online gaming market.

Golden Nugget and MGM banking on their reputations

Pennsylvania casino SugarHouse made its way to the NJ sports betting market under the Golden Nugget license originally. (It has since changed its sportsbook to the Monmouth Park license.)

Now, NJ is sending two of its casinos to PA.

Golden Nugget has been the online casino leader in the Garden State for quite a while now. It was the first to launch live dealer games in the state and its vast library of online casino games paid off big time for the company.

In September, Golden Nugget posted $9.3 million in NJ online gambling revenue. To put that in perspective, the seven other NJ gambling sites and their skins brought in a total of $24.1 million. And no other online casino has posted revenue of more than $5 million in a single month.

Borgata sits in second place with an online gambling revenue of $4.2 million in September. But it takes the lead in brick-and-mortar revenue with $60.5 million for the month.

That figure represents more than double its nearest competitor and that’s because Borgata is a popular destination for gaming enthusiasts on the East Coast including PA.

Why does all this matter?

Well, a brand entering a market for the first time is often at a disadvantage. In this case, though, both brands certainly have solid reputations with Pennsylvania gamblers that have made their way to Atlantic City in the past.

NJ online gaming experience matters, too

Not only do they have their reputation, but they also have the experience. That experience will help the NJ casinos avoid the missteps often seen as new companies expand their footprint.

One only has to look at FanDuel Sportsbook and its recent mistakes in New Jersey to understand the importance of experience. The pivot from daily fantasy sports to sports betting is not as smooth as it had hoped.

For now, Golden Nugget and MGM will await approval for the key to online gambling in the Keystone State. Look for a decision in late November.