MGM Marches Into The Future PA Online Gambling Ring With Borgata As Lead

Written By Bart Shirley on November 2, 2018

MGM Resorts International wants to get a foothold in the imminent launch of online gaming in Pennsylvania.

Somewhat curiously, however, the casino giant’s application for licensure uses Borgata‘s standing and success in New Jersey as its qualification.

Wait, what’s going on in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania expanded its gambling laws in October 2017. It allowed its 12 existing casinos and one casino under construction to apply for licenses to offer online slots, online table games, and online poker.

Not every casino took the state up on its offer.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board demanded a $4 million fee for each license, which was prohibitively expensive for some of Pennsylvania’s smaller casinos.

Some of the holdouts also have sister properties in Pennsylvania that already applied. In those cases, the parent companies of those properties felt that applying for multiple properties would be redundant. Therefore, several of those 39 slots went unfilled.

In fact, there are three unfilled slots licenses, three unfilled table games licenses, and four unfilled poker licenses. The extra poker license is due to the fact that Presque Isle Casino only applied for slots and table games.

So, in order to fill these gaps, the PGCB moved to allow external operators to apply for these spare licenses. The licenses would be awarded based upon a random selection of the external applicants.

MGM was the first casino company to throw its hat in the ring, followed by Golden Nugget just before the deadline. MGM submitted its application and the $12 million fee ($4 million per license) to the board on Oct. 24.

What does Borgata have to do with this?

Any external company to apply for online casino licensure has first to demonstrate its track record of success in the industry. The PGCB will then certify the company as a Qualified Gaming Entity (QGE).

MGM is one of the largest gaming companies in the world, and it could prove its qualifications in a multitude of ways. So, its selection of Borgata as its flagbearer is curious.

We can only speculate about management’s true reasons for selecting the Atlantic City casino on the application. However, here are our best guesses about the rationale:

Application similarity

  • Borgata has its own NJ online casino and NJ online poker sites.
  • The application is to operate online slots, table games, and poker, all three of which MGM has in NJ.
  • Therefore, Borgata is how MGM can demonstrate its online expertise.

Regional familiarity

  • Borgata has the name recognition as one of New Jersey’s finest and highest-grossing casinos.
  • Some Pennsylvania voters have no doubt stayed and/or played at the Atlantic City property.
  • The casino’s successful operation occurred in a very similar market to Pennsylvania.

Whatever the case might be for using Borgata as a qualifier, MGM may know soon enough whether its application will be approved. The next PGCB meeting is Nov. 28.

Image credit: Bikeworldtravel /

Bart Shirley Avatar
Written by
Bart Shirley

Bart Shirley is a writer and poker player from Houston, Texas. When he's not teaching high school math and business, Bart writes about the NJ online casino industry and US online poker. He has a master's degree in business administration from Texas Christian University and a degree in English from Texas A&M.

View all posts by Bart Shirley
Privacy Policy