The Who and What of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board
Through no coincidence, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) was formed in 2004. It was in July of that same year that Pennsylvania’s lawmakers passed Act 71. Act 71 is also known as the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act.
This board is composed of seven people, three appointments by the governor and four by the Pennsylvania General Assembly. For the past 15 years, most of the responsibilities for the PGCB revolved around casino gaming and race track betting.
With the passing of Pennsylvania House Bill 271, the board has another duty. The PGCB will oversee all operations for sports betting, possibly the most lucrative source of revenue in the state’s history.
Legislators appreciated a need to insure public trust what would become a lucrative source of state revenue. The agency has nothing to do with individual games of chance such as the PA Lottery or other legal games at non-profit organizations such as bingo. The PGCB oversees all aspects of horse track betting and casino gambling in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Slot Machine and Game Authenticity
There is a testing center for slot machines in their Harrisburg facility, which started in 2008 to monitor machine and table games. Each licensed gaming facility must provide accurate records of casino and slot machine payouts and per day averages from all games. This data are inspected for authenticity, but the reports are not available for public inspection.
Compulsive Gambling Plan
Another important responsibility of the PGCB is to oversee each facility’s compliance with Act 71 legislation. One aspect of that law is a requirement that each operation has a written plan in place to address compulsive gambling issues.
By law, each compulsive gambling plan must have training structured for casino employees. This includes how to administer a self-exclusion program for people who want to be monitored for a potentially harmful gambling addiction. There are minimum requirements for posted signs and printed literature available at each facility.
Gambling While Intoxicated or Underage Gambling
Each licensed gaming facility in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania must have a process in place to stop individuals from gambling while intoxicated or to report underage gambling violations.
Almost immediately upon lawmakers approving legislation to make sports betting legal, the PGCB started work on approving regulations. They are responsible for reviewing all applications for casino operations, including those companies that provide gaming machines.
In addition to overseeing these regulatory applications, the PGCB will be entrusted with reviewing and issuing all sports betting licenses. First, the agency must approve the physical location where a PA sportsbook facility is sought.
The PGCB will also have final say on which providers will be issued licenses for online sports betting operations once that aspect of sports betting is approved. Lawmakers have entrusted the seven member board to govern all facets of House Bill 271, which legalized sports betting in Pennsylvania.
Sports Betting Licenses
Almost immediately upon the passing of HB 271, casinos were lining up to get a license. This eagerness to take sports bets across the state was hindered by the $10 million license fee. Clearly, casinos and racetrack facilities appreciated the potential for profits far exceeded the cost of getting the required license.
Each facility had to pass a series of application requirements, including documentation of gaming authenticity reports and compulsive gambling plans. Those facilities that were already operating in Pennsylvania obviously had a clear advantage.
Parx Casino in Bensalem and the Hollywood Casino in Dauphin were the first two facilities to earn a license. However, there are now dozens of licensed physical facilities in Pennsylvania today.
Online sports betting licenses have been somewhat more difficult to come by. Legislation overseeing mobile betting first needed to be passed. Sugarhouse Sportsbook in Philadelphia was the first of what will be a number of online sports betting options. FanDuel Sportsbook is considered to the be the next to launch.
The PGCB receives no direct money from Pennsylvania taxpayers. Slot machine operations are the largest source of funds for the agency. Other sources of revenue come from table game operations and there will be a 34-percent tax on sports betting facilities.
Local governments and regional economic boards receive a percentage of revenues before the PGCB. A set percentage is also diverted to enhance the horse racing industry, as well as the State Gaming Fund, funneled to school systems.
The PGCB provides support for both the gaming consumer and the facility operators. The main offices are located in Harrisburg. All license applications pass through this office. This is also the location where hearings and appeals are held. Consumers can contact either the main office or any of the three regional PGCB office locations.
These regional offices are located strategically across the state. The southeast office is located in Conshohocken, a suburb of Philadelphia. Wilkes Barre is the site of the northeast facility and Pittsburgh is home to the office that oversees gaming facilities in the western part of the state.
This is the who and the what for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. For over a decade, they were entrusted with building the state’s revenue base by overseeing horse tracks and casino operations. Today, the PGCB is now the governing agency for what Pennsylvanians hope is a successful venture into legal sports betting. They’re off to a very productive start.