The two operators staked claims by a deadline Wednesday for five of the 11 interactive certificates unclaimed by Pennsylvania's casino operators. The state will collect a $4 million fee for each license.
MGM, which owns the Borgata Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, applied for three licenses to operate online poker, slots, and casino table games, a spokesperson for the Gaming Control Board said Thursday.
Golden Nugget, which also has an Atlantic City casino, applied for licenses to operate interactive slots and casino table games but not poker.
Pennsylvania's 13 casino operators had first dibs to claim a three-license package of online licenses at the discount price $10 million. Poker, slots, and table games each require a license. When the dust cleared, 11 of 39 licenses went unclaimed — five for poker, three for slots, and three for table games.
Lady Luck Casino and Meadows Racetrack & Casino did not apply for any licenses. Two casinos, Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie and the still-unbuilt Stadium Casino in Philadelphia LLC, applied for slots and table games licenses but opted out of poker.
Rivers Casino Pittsburgh applied for all three licenses but later withdrew. Rivers is owned by Rush Street Gaming, the owner of Philadelphia's SugarHouse Casino, which applied for interactive licenses.
MGM operates the playMGM-branded online casino and poker sites in New Jersey, and Golden Nugget operates GoldenNuggetCasino.com.
Though a dozen operators have now applied for Pennsylvania internet gaming licenses, and the Gaming Control Board has approved nine, none have launched yet.
Kevin F. O'Toole, the board's executive director, said Wednesday the first launch is not far off. The board authorized O'Toole to approve any start-ups after the interactive systems get through testing.
The state established a lottery procedure for awarding any unclaimed licenses, assuming there would be more applicants than available licenses. But there is no procedure in place for awarding the six licenses still unclaimed.
Four of the six remaining licenses are for interactive poker, a low-margin business that gaming experts said is made even more challenging in Pennsylvania by the state's $4 million license fee.