Cordish Companies Paying Pennsylvania Another $10M for Second Sports Betting License

Posted on: July 15, 2021, 09:51h. 

Last updated on: July 15, 2021, 12:52h.

The Cordish Companies has been approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) to acquire a second $10 million sports betting license. 

Cordish Companies Live! casino sports betting
The entrance lobby of Live! Casino Hotel Philadelphia welcomes guests with some rather familiar artwork. The casino’s parent company, The Cordish Companies, is paying for a second $10 million sports betting licensing fee. (Image: South Philly Review)

The PGCB this week agreed to allow Cordish to purchase a second sports wagering permit. The Baltimore-based casino and hospitality firm obtained its first sportsbook rights in October of 2019, also for $10 million. Cordish owns and operates Live! casinos in Maryland and Pennsylvania. 

The company opened Live! Casino Pittsburgh outside the Steel City in Westmoreland, Pa., last November. The satellite venue is a Category 4 operation that is permitted to have up to 750 slot machines, 30 table games, and a sportsbook.

Cordish opened Live! Casino Hotel Philadelphia, its larger, full-scale Category 2 casino resort in Pennsylvania, in January of this year. At both properties, FanDuel operates the casinos’ retail sportsbooks.

Casino Category Expansion 

Pennsylvania’s 2017 Expanded Gaming Act legalized sports betting and the Category 4 satellite casinos. 

In Pennsylvania, Category 1 casinos are full-scale gaming venues at state horse racetracks. The 2017 expansion legislation allows such properties to purchase one $10 million sports betting license that can be used at their Category 1 venues, as well as at their Category 4 satellites. The license is also good for the casino to partner with mobile sportsbook and iGaming operators at both locations. The mobile partner does not need to be the same entity. 

There are six Category 1 casinos — Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, Harrah’s Philadelphia, The Meadows Racetrack and Casino, Mohegan Sun Pocono, Parx Casino, and Presque Isle Downs. 

Category 2 casinos include standalone resorts, not at a horse racetrack. For these casinos, a $10 million sports betting license can be used for the main casino, as well as at its satellite. However, a Category 2 sports betting permit only allows for one mobile/online gaming partner. 

Cordish purchasing a second $10 million sportsbook license allows the company to partner with a second iGaming firm. All iGaming and mobile sportsbooks must be tethered to a brick-and-mortar casino.

Partner Unknown

Cordish isn’t divulging in which iGaming platform it might have its eyes set on. The Who’s Who of online sportsbooks have already aligned with casinos, including DraftKings, FOX Bet, BetMGM, FanDuel, Unibet, and Barstool. 

Live! is heavily invested in Pennsylvania. It spent $700 million on its Philly casino resort, and $150 million on its Pittsburgh satellite. 

iGaming has become a major component of Pennsylvania’s gaming industry. It’s one of only five states with online slots and table games. Gross gaming revenue from interactive casino games from January through May totaled $240.5 million. 

Online gaming in Pennsylvania continues to flourish. But concerning is that brick-and-mortar play hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels. Pent-up demand has resulted in other commercial gaming states experiencing record revenue. 

A note from Deutsche Bank this week voiced concern that COVID-19 might have resulted in a permanent migration of some Pennsylvania gamblers to online casinos. That is, of course, not what The Cordish Companies want to hear after recently opening two land-based casinos at a cost of $850 million.