Two Pennsylvania online casinos, BetRivers and DraftKings, are amid a two-day test period with live table game dealers on their interactive platforms.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) approved BetRivers and DraftKings to operate online live dealer games for blackjack and roulette from Oct. 21-22. Following the test run, the state gaming regulator will decide whether to approve live table game dealers permanently.
Rush Street Gaming owns and operates Rivers Philadelphia and Rivers Pittsburgh. BetRivers is the company’s interactive casino and sportsbook brand. DraftKings is licensed to conduct online casino gambling through its partnership with Penn National Gaming’s Hollywood Casino outside Harrisburg.
Both Rush Street and DraftKings utilize business-to-business interactive gaming firm Evolution Gaming for its online casino operations in Pennsylvania.
Many online players prefer live dealer options because they watch the action as it happens, which gives them a higher level of trust in the outcome. A live dealer game is the closest you can get online to playing in a land-based casino,” explained Rush Street Interactive President Richard Schwartz.
BetRivers and DraftKings’ live blackjack and roulette dealers are streaming from the Evolution Gaming studio in Philadelphia.
Wire Act Barrier
Online live table games have been offered in neighboring New Jersey for years. Evolution Gaming launched its live studio from the Hard Rock Atlantic City in August of 2018. The company last year received approval from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to more than double its studio space.
While Evolution would much prefer to stream its live dealer games from one location to multiple iGaming states, the US Wire Act has muddied the legality of doing so.
The Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel issued a revised opinion in the fall of 2018. That opinion said the federal law banned the interstate transmission of betting or wagering applies to all forms of gambling — not only sports betting.
Federal appeals of the decision are ongoing.
Longtime casino patrons have voiced skepticism in taking their gambling online. Though internet casinos are regulated just as closely as brick-and-mortar operations, some players have been slow to embrace relying on a computer random number generator to reveal whether a table game bet wins or loses.
Testing and regulating live dealer studio games is similar from other online casino games from a technology standpoint, and is actually similar in many aspects to table games in land-based casinos, except there is no cash or gaming chips and, of course, players are not physically present,” explained PGCB Communications Director Doug Harbach.
The PGCB rep says the state must license studio staff operating the games, and the studio must be surveilled in the same manner as a brick-and-mortar casino.
To present an even more realistic experience to gamblers, live table game dealers online are wearing face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pennsylvania’s online casinos are faring well during the coronavirus and helping alleviate some of the lost land-based gross gaming revenues. Internet gaming win has soared from $19.4 million in February to more than $50 million in May, June, July, August, and September.