Stars Group and Mount Airy Casino Announce Pa iGaming Partnership

Stars Group and Mount Airy Casino Announce Pa iGaming Partnership

On Friday, Aug. 10, The Stars Group announced that it was entering into a partnership with Mount Airy Casino Resort in Pocono, Pennsylvania, with the purpose of the arrangement being to bring online gambling products to the state’s regulated internet gaming market.

The newly formed relationship allows The Stars Group, parent company of worldwide online poker leader PokerStars, to make further inroads into the US market since striking a similar partnership deal with the Resorts Casino Hotel in New Jersey back in 2016. Meanwhile, the deal enables Mount Airy Casino, one of the Pennsylvania’s smaller land-based casinos, to realize its goal of diversifying into real-money online gambling in the most spectacular way by partnering with the world’s most recognizable poker brand.

Mount Airy Licensure Status

Mount Airy Casino Resort was one of the nine Pennsylvania casinos to apply for licensure in the newly opened PA regulated internet gambling environment. It paid $10 million for a three-in-one license covering slots, casino table games and poker, and in return will have to hand over 16 percent of all its online poker and casino revenues, along with 54% of its slot revenue by way of taxes.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved Mount Airy’s application on Wednesday, August 15 and issued it an interactive gaming certificate. The Board has not yet announced a date for online gaming to begin in the state, but Mount Airy will almost certainly be ready to launch its websites from the word “go.” It will then be able to accept action from people physically located within Pennsylvania’s borders, which includes both residents as well as visitors. Matt Primeaux, SVP Strategy & Operations, USA at The Stars Group, stated:

“We’re excited to take this next step as The Stars Group looks to broaden its presence in the United States. In partnership with Mount Airy Casino Resort, we believe we’re well positioned to capitalize on opportunities in the Commonwealth by bringing our world leading offerings to Pennsylvania players.”

Sportsbook Coming Later?

Sports betting is also permissible in Pennsylvania’s legalized internet gambling market. However, Mount Airy and Pennsylvania’s other casino operators have yet to submit their applications for a sports betting license, probably because they’re struggling to justify forking out its hefty $10 million licensing fee, and subsequently having to pay an exorbitant 34% tax rate on sports bets.

Nonetheless, Parx Casino and its partner a software developer firm called GAN have signaled their intention to start offering sport betting options sometime in the future, and in a recent press release, The Stars Group also indicated that sports betting was one of the forms of wagering that it was looking to offer Pennsylvania’s citizens. As Rafael Ashkenazi, CEO for The Stars Group, commented after releasing the company’s second quarter results this week:

“The continued emergence of our sports betting and casino offerings and the addition of our 2018 acquisitions have transformed our business and greatly enhanced the foundation and diversity of our consolidated revenue base.”

It may be the case that the company and Mount Airy Casino wish to start off first with poker and casino products before perhaps adding sports betting into the mix later on down the line.

The Stars Group Brands

The Stars Group recently acquired Sky Betting & Gaming in a deal valued at about $4.7 billion, in the process bringing additional wagering businesses under The Stars Group’s umbrella. The brands owned by this conglomerate currently include:

– PokerStars
– PokerStars Casino
– Full Tilt
– BetStars
– Sky Bet
– Sky Vegas
– Sky Casino
– Sky Bingo
– Sky Poker

By leveraging its full portfolio of gambling resources, Stars intends to deploy an all-in-one gambling site in Pennsylvania that customers can access with a single set of account credentials. Users will also be able to utilize a common wallet rather than having to keep their real money funds separate across the different betting divisions.

PokerStars USA Gambling Experience

PokerStars was active in the American online gaming market until Black Friday forced it to leave in 2011. Since that time, it has reentered the scene, in a limited fashion, by offering New Jersey-licensed internet gambling. PokerStars NJ opened for business in March 2016 and, for a time, was the NJ internet poker room with the highest level of traffic.

Interestingly, PokerStars has recently extended its contract with its New Jersey i-gaming partner, Resorts Casino Hotel. As part of the new arrangement, they will work together to bring online and mobile sports betting to New Jersey under the BetStars label. This provides further evidence that betting on sports may eventually be possible through the Mount Airy Casino’s online portal in Pennsylvania.

Impact on Other States

While the consequences of the Mount Airy/PokerStars deal will mostly be felt within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, there are ways in which it could affect other states. The most notable of these is the prospect of Pennsylvania joining the existing gaming compact between New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware.

Under the terms of this multi-state accord, online poker sites in each state can share player traffic among all participating states in which they transact. Because the population of Pennsylvania is about equal to the combined number of residents of the three other participants, its entry into this agreement would surely boost the number of players active at any one time. The bill (H271) that authorized gambling over the internet in Pennsylvania contained language explicitly permitting the Gaming Control Board to pursue cross-jurisdictional cooperation with other states that have regulated gambling.

In order to benefit from this setup, a gaming firm must have a presence in at least two of the participating states. Currently, the only such enterprise is 888/WSOP, which has online properties in New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada. When the PokerStars Pennsylvania online poker site opens for business, it will be able to combine its player volume with the New Jersey wing of the corporation as long as Pennsylvania joins the compact with the other three states.