Eminent casino game developer, NetEnt, has been given the green light to provide online casino content in Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has granted a conditional licence to NetEnt, which will permit the Swedish developer to provide its content in the newly regulated online gambling market of the north-eastern American state.
The NetEnt Pennsylvania Licence
NetEnt are one of the first game developers to have been granted a licence in Pennsylvania after an application for an Interactive Gaming Manufacturer Conditional Licence was submitted in September of 2018.
A full and permanent licence is still under review, but the temporary licence will permit the use of NetEnt games and software in online casinos that operate in Pennsylvania once the virtual casino doors officially open.
Pennsylvania Online Gambling Reform
Back in October of 2017, Pennsylvania’s legislature passed a law which officially legalised online gambling in the state, making it the fourth state to do so.
Pennsylvania has a long and fruitful history with land-based casinos and gambling. In fact, only the state of Nevada yields more casino revenue per year than Pennsylvania.
Considering Pennsylvania’s association with gambling, it came as no surprise that the state was one of the first to officially legalise online gambling.
Also, it is worth noting that Pennsylvania has a population of nearly 13 million, making it the fifth most populated state in the United States.
Evidently, the state of Pennsylvania holds huge potential for online gambling operators.
When Will Online Gambling Officially Begin in Pennsylvania?
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board hinted that we can expect to see officially licenced and legal online casino services in Pennsylvania by the middle of 2019.
However, as has been the case for so long with American online gambling, there is still a lot of confusion around.
The Wire Act
The Wire Act, which was passed way back in 1961, prohibited certain betting business from operating in the United States.
It was long believed that the Wire Act only applied to sports betting. However, in January of 2019, the US Department of Justice stipulated that the Wire Act applied to all forms of gambling in the United States.
This was quite a shocking announcement for all those involved in the industry.
In reaction to the news, the Pennsylvania gambling regulator emphasised that online gambling operators must ensure that they are in full compliance with the updated Wire Act, which called into question all the moves which had already been made towards the legalisation and regulation of online gambling in the state.
The Department of Justice stated at the beginning of March that there will be a non-prosecution period extension until June of 2019.
In a memo, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote:
“We have decided to extend that window an additional 60 days (through June 14, 2019). “Providing this extension of time is an internal exercise of prosecutorial discretion and does not create a safe harbor for violations of the Wire Act.”
In the meantime, the Department of Justice will be formulating their final positions on the Wire Act and its implications.
Still, with all that being said, most in-the-know expect online gambling firms to be operating in Pennsylvania by the summer of 2019 in spite of the new interpretation of the Wire Act.
NetEnt’s Push in the American Online Gambling Market
The American online gambling industry is just taking its first baby steps and official licences and agreements are few and far between.
The fact that NetEnt have been granted a licence to offer their online casino products in Pennsylvania demonstrates how highly regarded the company is in the industry.
NetEnt are delighted about their new Pennsylvania licence. Their Managing Director, Eric Nyman said:
“We are very pleased to be in the first round of approved vendors to conduct online gaming in Pennsylvania. This fits well our strategy to be live with our products on the first day of market opening”.
Further American Expansion
NetEnt have been taking tentative steps into American online gambling for some time.
Back in 2015, the Swedish company applied for a licence to operate in the state of New Jersey.
NetEnt was granted a transactional waiver by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, which permitted NetEnt to offer their games in New Jersey for 6 months before renewing terms.
Erik Nyman announced at the beginning of March that the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement had granted them their first permanent gaming American licence.
The Pennsylvania licence is just the latest development in NetEnt’s expansion into the American scene.
Indeed, NetEnt have already signed content distribution agreements with many Pennsylvania casino operators including Penn Online Entertainment LLC and Parx Online, which are the online gaming divisions of Penn National gaming and Parx Casino respectively.
What Might the Future Bring?
Erik Nyman has maintained that he hopes the Pennsylvania and New Jersey licences are just the beginning.
NetEnt have big plans to expand in the American market and hope that they can build relationships in other states as the legalisation of online gambling continues to spread across America.
In spite of the Justice Department’s comments on the Wire Act and its meaning, the team at NetEnt seem to believe that the growth of online gambling on American shores is inevitable, and they certainly want a part of it.