Presque Isle Downs & Casino is a little late coming out of the gate in regards to sports betting.
The good news for Pennsylvanians in and around the town of Erie is that a local sportsbook is on its way. The bad news? The intended launch date isn’t until June 1, 2019.
According to Kevin O’Sullivan, Vice President and General Manager of Presque Isle, employees “have been hustling” to prepare the new sportsbook as PA casinos scramble to take advantage of the new sports betting opportunity in the state.
Presque Isle’s new sportsbook coming later than expected
With an intended launch date of June 1, 2019, Presque Isle is significantly behind the pace of other PA casinos that have entered the sports betting market. Presque Isle applied for a sports betting license in December 2018. That means the time between application and launch will be around six months – slow compared to their peers who really “hustled” to get their sportsbooks open.
As an example, Valley Forge Casino applied for their sports betting license in November 2018 and began taking bets at their FanDuel Sportsbook in March 2019. If Presque Isle kept the same pace, they would be launching their BetAmerica-partnered sportsbook in April 2019, not two months later in June.
There are currently eight sportsbooks operating in Pennsylvania, run by five different casino operators (Parx Casino has three retail locations) and none of them needed more than three months from Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) approval to sportsbook launch. Presque Isle is clearly dragging its feet a little, much to the dismay of Erie’s sports betting enthusiasts.
Ownership transition the likely culprit causing the delay
Presque Isle has recently gone through a time consuming ownership transition. The casino’s new owner, Churchill Downs Inc (CDI) initially began the process of acquisition early last year and only finalized the transaction this January. The unusually lengthy process took almost a full year and probably contributed to the delayed sportsbook launch.
Perhaps its best that CDI took their time. Despite the arduous acquisition process, casino operations were undisturbed and the casino operator was able to lock down both their technological partner (SBTech) and their sportsbook partner (BetAmerica) while making sure their customers weren’t jostled by the transition.
What can Erie sports bettors expect from the Presque Isle sportsbook?
According to the presentation Presque Isle made to the PGCB during the application process, their sportsbook will be a 1,275 square foot space within the casino. The sportsbook will be located adjacent to the poker room and the horse racing simulcast area.
The sportsbook will feature 50 self-service kiosks to handle the betting needs of casino customers. There will be 50 large high definition televisions displaying sporting events as well as customizable “odds board” displaying various games available to bet on as well as the associated odds and wagering options.
What about mobile sports betting?
Presque Isle officials have announced their intention to offer mobile betting, but it’s unclear when that will happen.
The PGCB has delayed the final approval for licensed sportsbook operators to go live with mobile (online) sports betting. The regulatory agency has announced that it intends that each operator first get their retail location(s) up and running smoothly and without negative incident before the PGCB will green-light mobile betting.
This means that Presque Isle won’t be able to launch their mobile version of their BetAmerica sportsbook until later in June 2019 at the earliest. Whether or not other Pennsylvania sportsbook operators will already have their mobile apps up and running before then only time will tell.
The PGCB hasn’t given any indication exactly when they will allow this to happen.