The First Live Dealer Games Are Underway At PA Online Casinos

It took many months since the launch of iCasinos in Pennsylvania, but live dealer games are now available.

A Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board spokesman reported Wednesday that Rush Street Interactive’s BetRivers and PlaySugarHouse sites, as well as the DraftKings casino site attached to Hollywood Casino, are in a two-day test period open to the public to wager money on Evolution’s live dealer blackjack and roulette.

The test periods run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and 11 to 9 p.m. Thursday, and barring problems, the Evolution games would become permanently approved thereafter, as they have been on New Jersey iGaming sites since 2018.

The additions, which are expected to be followed by other Pennsylvania sites offering live dealers, create another new opportunity for the state’s iCasinos to bolster revenue that has been setting records on a monthly basis. The 12 online sites claimed $57 million in revenue in September.

Rush Street touts being in vanguard

Rush Street has already seen success with live dealer games on its PlaySugarHouse site using Evolution in New Jersey, and it was enthused to announce their arrival in Pennsylvania. The BetRivers site Wednesday afternoon was showing different blackjack tables with minimum wagers of $1, $25, or $50.

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“Many online players prefer live dealer options because they watch the action as it happens, which gives them a higher level of trust in the outcome. A live dealer game is the closest you can get online to playing in a land-based casino,” Rush Street Interactive President Richard Schwartz said in a press release.

Evolution spent many months building a Pennsylvania studio required for it to provide the games in the state, along with training the dealers who appear on livestream video.

Players can hear the dealers speak and players can communicate in writing with the dealer and one another via a live chat. The dealers are shown wearing masks, just as is required within casinos during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The games are run in real time and payouts calculated in seconds for players involved online or on their mobile devices.

Regulator monitors launch similar to real casinos

Gaming board spokesman Doug Harbach said that during the test period, the regulator’s staff would be reviewing operations as they do for table games played in a brick-and-mortar casino, with the exception that no chips and cash are present. All of the dealers and other staff in Evolution’s studio must be licensed, just as in casinos.

“Similar to table games setups at land-based casinos, we have to ensure adequate security and surveillance in the studio that allows us to monitor the live dealers and helps us ensure the operator conducts table game operations in accordance with PGCB regulations,” Harbach said.

The gaming board approved Evolution’s manufacturing license Aug. 5. The company opened its first live dealer studio in Atlantic City in August 2018, and it has another one under construction in Michigan that it has said it expects to go live in 2021.

In a statement Wednesday, Evolution Chief Commercial Officer Johan Nordstrom referred to the company’s live blackjack as “the fastest, slickest online Live Blackjack available anywhere, so players get more game rounds and exciting play in every gaming session.”

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