Online Gambling Spurs Rash of Casino Sales in Pensylvania

Some casino operators want out while several others want in as Pennsylvania prepares to launch legal online gambling this year. In the handful of months since the state legalized online gambling, one-third of the state's 12 existing casinos have changed hands.

Pennsylvania legalized online gambling as part of a larger, comprehensive gaming package that included ten mini-satellite casinos and video gaming terminals. While the rash of casino sales was undoubtedly influenced by multiple factors in the state's changing gambling landscape, at least three deals included direct references to online gambling in their announcements.

The casino most obviously motivated by online gambling in Pennsylvania is also the most recent – the sale of Sands Bethlehem Casino to Wind Creek Hospitality. The owner of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., Sheldon Adelson, is the most prominent opponent of legal online gambling in Pennsylvania and the entire country.

For Kentucky-based Churchill Downs, purchasing casinos in a state with legal online gambling is their best bet. After buying Pennsylvania's Presque Isle Casino, Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen said the ability to offer real money online poker and casino games led the acquisition.

Lastly, Boyd Gaming CEO Keith Smith went straight into the benefits of online gambling that will be available to his company when announcing their acquisition of Pennsylvania's Valley Forge Casino.

Valley Forge went from an over-looked Category 3 gaming operation to a hot buy once outside operators wanted in on Pennsylvania online gambling. Boyd also now gains the opportunity to bid for a Category 4 mini-casino license in the state.

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