Applications to operate casino-style gambling online in Pennsylvania were rolling in ahead of Monday's deadline for the state's casino owners to get a license at a discounted rate of $10 million.
The deadline arrived as Pennsylvania is in the midst of an aggressive gambling expansion as the state scrounges for cash to shore up its treasury.
Under a law signed late last year by Gov. Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania became the fourth state to legalize online casino gambling, joining Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board said Monday it had thus far received three applications for online gambling.
Those applications came from the owners of Parx Casino in suburban Philadelphia, Mount Airy Casino Resort in northeastern Pennsylvania and Live! Hotel and Casino, which is under construction in south Philadelphia's stadium district.
After Monday's deadline, owners of Pennsylvania's 13 casino licenses have another 30 days to apply, but they will pay a premium of $12 million to operate all three forms of online casino games — slot machines, table games and poker — or $4 million for an individual form.
Ultimately, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board could open up the licenses to other out-of-state operators if the state's casino licensees don't apply for them.
Pennsylvania's casinos rake in more gross revenues than any other state's except Nevada's, American Gaming Association figures show, while Pennsylvania is the No. 1 state in tax revenue from the casino industry, netting $1.4 billion in the 2016-17 fiscal year.
Lawmakers and Wolf last year approved legislation authorizing an aggressive gambling expansion that would make Pennsylvania the first state to offer both casino gambling and lottery gambling online.
In recent weeks, Pennsylvania began offering its lottery games online and began regulating and taxing online fantasy sports games. The state also is in the process of awarding five new mini-casino licenses and writing regulations so that sports betting can begin, potentially before the National Football League's fall season begins on Sept. 5.