The online gambling license application process in Pennsylvania is still a few weeks way, but debate on an important topic for online gambling has heated up in recent weeks. The issue is over the use of skins in the state’s online poker and gambling market. Last week, 888 poker added their voice to the debate after writing a letter to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board in expressing support for the use of “skins” in Pennsylvania’s soon-to-launch online gambling market.
Like other proponents of skins in the state, 888 believes that bringing traditional online gambling brands to the Pennsylvania market will benefit everyone. 888, who has already launched skins in New Jersey and Nevada, has credibility in the world of online gambling, with over 15 years in the space.
We believe that our proven marketing abilities, along with our trusted international brand name, will be an asset to any local partner seeking to take its business online. Unlike the local property’s reputation, which is now associated only with an offline offering, our brand name (and those of other online operators) comes with a proven track record in the online industry. Allowing our partner to use not only its own brand but ours as well, would allow our partner to benefit from our international brand-recognition and marketing efforts, and will also inform players that they will be enjoying a world-class and popular offering.
888 also said that the skins results in a heathier marketplace.
Experience from other jurisdictions shows that a multi-brand approach stimulates healthy competition between brands, and ultimately increases overall market size, resulting in larger gaming duty income for licensing jurisdictions.
Opposition from prominent PA casinos
Although the use of skins are ubiquitous in regulated jurisdictions, some Pennsylvania casinos have voiced opposition to the use of skins. Among those opposed to skins in the state are Parx Casino and Penn National Gaming. These casinos and other opponents believe that allowing skins would diminish the value of a full license and would allow other entities to unfairly be able to offer games in the state through a sub-license. In addition, opponents also fear that long-standing online gambling rooms — some that Pennsylvania gamblers previously played — could take attention away from Pennsylvania brick and mortar casinos that want to broaden their brand.
At present, the state will issue internet gambling licenses equal to the number of brick and mortar casinos in the state — 13. The offering of skins in Pennsylvania would essentially open up online gambling to many brands, although there would still be the need for a main license holder. Even if skins are approved, they would still have input over who is sub licensed.
888 is no stranger to skins
888, which operates 888poker.com across the globe, has joined the regulated markets many other countries. Included in that list is the United States where they operate poker rooms and casinos in New Jersey as well as Nevada. Skins are also big part of the international market, notably on the iPoker and Microgaming networks.
Although the use of skins in the United States regulated markets is a newer concept to regulators, the international market has proven how they can be beneficial.
For one, offering skins has shown that the practice has maximized revenue. In addition, limiting skins is seen as anti-competitive, leaving the customer to possibly suffer from an inferior product. A burgeoning skin market encourages innovation, which pushes providers to improve. This attracts more players and improves the overall product for customers.
Of course, poker skins isn’t just an issue for 888poker. It’s also an issue that concerns other potential operators as well as players. It will need to be an issue that the state considers carefully as Pennsylvania gears up for its major launch of online gambling.