Which PA Casino Will DraftKings Partner Up With?

Martin Derbyshire October 17, 2018
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The DraftKings Sportsbook mobile and online sports betting app launched in New Jersey in August. It was the first mobile sports betting product to launch in the market. It did so under Resorts Atlantic City’s license. Speculation as to where it would go next has run rampant ever since.

PA lawmakers passed sports betting legislation pending a change in federal law back in 2017. Now, it has devised regulations to govern sports betting in the state and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) approved the first sports betting license applications on Oct. 3.

Approved PA sportsbook deals done

The two PA casinos granted approval to operate sportsbooks in Pennsylvania are:

Hollywood is partnering with leading US sportsbook operator William Hill US to run sports betting operations there. Parx has tapped global online gaming tech firm GAN to launch its live and online sports betting efforts in PA.

As a result, DraftKings Sportsbook is still without a PA home.

Pending applications

There are three other PA casino license holders have applied for sports betting licenses, but are still awaiting approval. They are:

However, most have sports betting plans already in place that don’t include partnering with DraftKings.

It’s easy to rule out the possibility of a Harrah’s Philadelphia and DraftKings Sportsbook PA partnership, mostly because Harrah’s Philadelphia is a Caesars Entertainment property. It runs its own New Jersey and Nevada online and mobile sportsbooks and has a sports betting deal with Scientific Games.

SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia and Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh are both Rush Street Gaming properties. Its online arm, Rush Street Interactive, launched sports betting on its New Jersey online casino site in August. The PlaySugarHouse.com Sportsbook & Casino is now a fully integrated online casino and sports betting site with plans to move into PA pending regulatory approval.

Rush Street is also partners with DraftKings’ sports betting software and data supplier Kambi. However, since revenues have more than doubled in NJ since sports betting launched on the site, it appears to need no help from DraftKings.

Valley Forge Casino Resort was recently purchased by Boyd Gaming. Boyd inked a deal with MGM Resorts International this summer with an eye on tackling new online gambling and sports betting opportunities across the US together. Both companies have their own sports betting apps. Plus competitor FanDuel seems to have an in here, leaving DraftKings out in the cold at Valley Forge as well.

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Sands is the best hope

On the list of current sports betting license applicants, Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem arguably represents the biggest hope for DraftKings. Owner Las Vegas Sands is selling to Wind Creek Hospitality, an affiliate of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians of Alabama.

This could represent an opportunity for DraftKings in PA. However, Wind Creek has yet to devise a plan and the $1.43 billion sale has yet to close.

The other PA casinos

Of course, there are several other PA casinos, including the soon-to-be-built Stadium Casino, that might ultimately want in the new PA sports betting market. Most could potentially partner with DraftKings.

The casinos are:

Churchill Downs is taking over ownership of Presque Isle Downs & Casino and operations at Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin. That likely rules DraftKings out at these two properties as Churchill has a deal with competitor SBTech to run sports betting operations.

Like Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, The Meadows Racetrack and Casino is a Penn National Gaming casino. Its partnership with William Hill will probably leave DraftKings on the outside looking in at Meadows.

Online and mobile sports betting appears to be locked up at Mount Airy Casino Resort as well. The Poconos resort casino inked a deal with The Stars Group earlier this year that will see its PokerStars online poker and BetStars sports betting brands set up shop there.

Mohegan Sun is the obvious choice for DraftKings Sportsbook

Of course, that leaves Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs as the only realistic partnership possibility for DraftKings in PA.

Considering DraftKings Sportsbook runs under the Mohegan-operated Resorts Atlantic City license in New Jersey, this would be an obvious choice for DraftKings in PA.

As it stands, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs has yet to apply for a sports betting license in PA. Nor has it announced any plans to partner with DraftKings Sportsbook.

However, if DraftKings Sportsbook really wants in PA, both likely happen sooner rather than later. Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs is clearly the most likely landing spot for DraftKings Sportsbook in PA.