PA Online Gambling Forecast: Penn National And Hollywood Casino

Martin Derbyshire August 12, 2018
Penn National Gaming logo

Penn National Gaming calls Wyomissing, PA home, and the US gaming and horse racing giant now owns and operates two casino-racetracks in Pennsylvania. They are Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville and The Meadows Racetrack & Casino in Washington.

Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course is one of nine PA casino license holders that has applied for a $10 million Pennsylvania online gambling license to operate online slots, online table games, and online poker. However, The Meadows Racetrack & Casino is not.

Alongside the eight other applicants, Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course got its application in just ahead of the state’s the July 16, 2018 deadline.

Of course, it had the option of waiting until after the deadline to apply for individual licenses at $4 million each. This suggests Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course wants to operate all three forms of online gambling in the state. It also means the door to online gambling is still open for The Meadows Racetrack & Casino and Penn National Gaming may have future plans to operate some form of online gambling there.

Hollywood Casino online

Penn National Gaming does not currently operate any real-money online casino or poker sites in the US. However, its Hollywood Casino brand is online.

The company offers social online gaming through its Penn Interactive Ventures division and HollywoodCasino.com social casino site. The site, developed in partnership with US gaming tech company Scientific Games Corporation, launched in 2015.

It features more than 50 free-to-play online slots available on computer or mobile devices. Many of the games are the same ones players can enjoy on legal and regulated online casino sites in New Jersey. The big difference at HollywoodCasino.com is the games can’t be played for real money.

However, the site does give players an idea of what a Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course or Penn National Gaming real-money PA casino site might look like.

Penn National Gaming and Scientific Games

Penn National Gaming has called Scientific Games a partner for years, leaning on the company for a variety of gaming and security technology at its brick and mortar casinos. The company is expected to go to the same source for online gambling tech as well, particularly considering Scientific Games now owns one of the top online gaming software platforms in the industry

In January 2018, Scientific Games acquired online gaming tech firm NYX Gaming Group Limited. NYX is one of the largest game and software supplier in the legal and regulated US online casino market. Its software and games can be found on several New Jersey online gambling sites, including Golden Nugget and PokerStars NJ.

Caesars Interactive Entertainment’s Caesars-branded NJ online casino site adopted its NYX Open Platform System in 2016.

The NYX Open Platform System launched in 2015 and it was named Platform of the Year at the EGR B2B Awards a year later. The platform allowed Caesars to greatly improving the number of games it offers in NJ. It would also allow Penn National Gaming’s flagship PA online casino site to roll out an extensive offering from launch.

It is a little more difficult to see what the future holds when it comes to online poker for Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course and Penn National Gaming.

The long-standing partnership with Scientific Games doesn’t help, since Scientific Games is seemingly into every aspect of gaming, online or off, except online poker.

Hollywood Casino poker

Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course has a small poker room. Penn National Gaming’s Hollywood Casino also ran a now-defunct promotional poker tournament series for several years. It culminated with an annual championship event at its M Resort in Las Vegas.

Clearly, Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course has a reputation for poker. It remains to be seen how it will leverage that reputation online.

The Penn National Turf Club Inc. originally goes back to 1968. It received one of the first pari-mutuel wagering licenses in Pennsylvania that year. The Penn National Race Course held its opening day four years later on Aug. 30, 1972 under that license.

In 1994, the company went public as Penn National Gaming. It has grown exponentially since, acquiring various casinos, racetracks, and off-track betting facilities.

Penn National Race Course gets slots

Penn National Gaming procured a slot machine license for Penn National Race Course in 2004. It ultimately tore down the old track and opened Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course on Feb. 12, 2008. The property is located just outside the state capital of Harrisburg.

Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course now features 2,500 slots, 70 table games, and a 16-table poker room. The thoroughbred track on the property also hosts races year-round.

In early 2018, Penn National Gaming bought out rival Pinnacle Entertainment in a $2.8 billion deal that gave it a second PA casino in The Meadows Racetrack & Casino outside of Pittsburgh.

Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course is really a middle-of-the-pack PA casino in terms of revenue. Its $207,355,560 in slots revenue reported in fiscal 2017-2018 has it fifth of 12 PA casinos. However, its $35,488,274 in table game revenues over the same period is closer to the bottom of the list.

Photo by Casimiro PT / Shutterstock.com