Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Releases Temporary Online Gaming Regulations

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (“PGCB” or “Board”) has released another set of temporary regulations implementing the online gaming expansion package signed into law last fall.

This set of temporary regulations focus on issues of equipment requirements, standards for security and integrity of interactive games, advertising and marketing efforts, and live studio interactive gaming. Many of these regulations are typical of those in other jurisdictions with interactive gaming, addressing technology standards, advertising disclosures, and parameters for certain types of games. However, there are some areas that may be of special interest to operators, processors, and vendors seeking to provide interactive gaming in the Commonwealth.

  • Server locations: In a deviation from neighboring New Jersey, Pennsylvania has not limited where interactive gaming operators may locate their servers, although the Board must approve the location of all servers prior to operation. Assuming the Board is receptive to locating servers outside the state, this is a boon for operators and a positive, forward-thinking decision from the Board. For example, it will allow operators to use servers already functioning in jurisdictions, saving costs for operators.
  • “Controls”: Section 810.12 of the temporary regulations, titled “Controls,” sets out rules for a handful of unique situations: game replay features, tournaments, and progressive jackpots. Operators will be required to offer a “replay last game” feature, in which players may watch their entire last game cycle, including the amount bet, the amount won, time the game started and stopped, and the result of the game. The regulations provide that operators may offer tournaments, subject to Board approval of the event and adherence to parameters set forth in these regulations. Finally, the progressive jackpot rules indicate how customers can enter and participate in a progressive jackpot contest and what disclosures must be made to customers.
  • Live dealer games: Subject to Board approval, operators may offer live dealer games. However, the regulations are currently silent on where the studio may be located. Rather, the regulations simply provide that the Board must approve the location prior to the operator offering the live dealer game. Thus (and like the server location regulations), it appears that operators will be able to use their already in-use live dealer studios, subject to the PGCB approval.

Beyond these unique items, the regulations also touch data security issues, advertising and marketing limitations (including player exclusion), and game testing. For example, some issues the regulations cover include:

  • Server security, including the implementation of disaster and emergency recovery plans;
  • Geolocation protocols;
  • Ability for players – and prospective players – to access game rules;
  • Minimum information about a game that must be provided to a player once the game is underway; and
  • Standards for random number generators that must be tested by a gaming laboratory (without specifying what qualifies as a gaming laboratory).

This round of temporary regulations will go into effect once published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin – although the intended date of publication is currently unknown. After this publication, interested parties may submit comments and suggestions to the Board for up to thirty days. The industry should review these temporary regulations carefully to consider how they might be improved to serve the industry, the players, and the state.