Applications are now available to merchants hoping to get in on the dramatic gambling expansion that is set to bring video gaming terminals and online gaming, among other things, to Pennsylvania.
The forms will be collected in the spring, but the Gaming Control Board couldn't provide any other details about the process, including when Pennsylvanians might be able to gamble on their home computers or visit VGTs at a truck stop near them.
"We will continue to provide updates on the next steps for all the various gaming expansion initiatives," Gaming Control Board spokesman Douglas Harbach said in a statement.
The Gaming Control Board will start collecting some applications April 2, giving hopefuls two months to prepare, and others later in the year.
The applications were made available on the board's website at the end of January, ahead of the turn-in date, so that applicants would have a clear understanding of what information is required, Harbach said. Once an applicant submits the nearly 60-page application and is fingerprinted, the board will conduct a background investigation into the applicant and the business entity.
Along with iLottery, mini casinos, and gaming stations in airports, online gaming and the truck-stop terminals (which are slots-like machines) will bring Pennsylvanians wildly expanded opportunities to bet their money on games of chance.
The commonwealth became the fourth state to legalize online gaming, or iGaming. Manufacturers, suppliers, and service providers can submit applications April 2; a date has not been announced for platform-provider applications. Up to 13 licenses (the number of casinos in the state, including the new one slated for Philadelphia) will be issued each for different types of online games.
Manufacturers and suppliers of video gaming terminals also will be able to turn in the applications April 2. Operators and establishments must wait until May 7.
The approval of video gaming terminals represented the end of a long legislative battle over the machines, which bar and tavern owners had heavily lobbied to bring to their establishments. In the end, only "truck stops" were authorized to install VGTs — up to five per establishment.
Truck stops are defined as any business that:
has diesel islands for commercial vehicles
sold an average of 50,000 gallons of diesel or biodiesel fuel each month in the last year or is projected to in the coming year
has at least 20 parking spots for commercial vehicles
has a convenience store
is at least three acres
and is not on property owned by the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
But VGTs won't be coming to Philadelphia, Bucks, or Montgomery Counties — they are among 10 counties, all of which are homes to casino, that chose not to allow the games.
Legislators estimated that the gaming package could bring in $200 million in revenue for the state, although experts say that's difficult to predict.
Officials said in December that iLottery could hit your smartphone by spring. Virtual sports games will also be offered by 400 retailers, mainly bars and taverns. Meanwhile, biweekly auctions for 10 mini-casino licenses are underway.