• The Mohegan Sun Pocono is on track to be PA’s eighth sportsbook.
  • Downs Racing, L.P., has partnered with international bookmakers at the Kindred Group to handle on-site and online sports betting.
  • Legal sports wagering should be live at the venue by the start of the NBA Playoffs.

HARRISBURG, Pa. – The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has already approved and received applications to offer legal sports wagering at seven different venues. The Mohegan Sun Pocono is seeking the go-ahead to be the eighth such operational gaming establishment in the state.

The Mohegan Sun Pocono is a racino in northeastern Pennsylvania, and it would be the first sports wagering location in the region if their license application is approved. There is no reason to think it wouldn’t be, with the only real question being one of timing, i.e. when exactly the book will open to the public.

Because March Madness 2019 is nearing its conclusion and because the Major League Baseball season has already started, it seems that the schedule for getting the sports betting lounge at the Mohegan Sun Pocono up and running would be targeted for full operation before the start of the NBA Playoffs.

The NBA Playoffs are considered to be the fourth-largest sports wagering event in America (after the Super Bowl, March Madness, and the College Football Playoff), so it makes sense that – at this time of year – the professional basketball postseason would be the functional deadline for getting a book up and running.

The Mohegan Sun Pocono, operated by Downs Racing, L.P. and owned by the Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut, has partnered with the Kindred Group, an experienced international bookmaker.

With land-based sports betting already operational in Pennsylvania, online wagering is slated to launch later this year. The Kindred agreement (which is a five-year deal to start) would give the Mohegan Sun Pocono an easy way to transition to Internet-based legal sports betting as soon as possible.

What’s In The Mohegan Sun Pocono Sports Betting Petition?

While the petition is public record, there’s some redaction when it comes to specifics. Redactions aren’t always indicative of problems, of course. Sports betting, after all, is hardly controversial, and Pennsylvania’s implementation of legal wagering has been far from a divisive issue.

So why the redactions? Most of these have to do with the Mohegan Sun Pocono’s assessments of how many new jobs and how much new state tax revenue the wagering opportunity will create.

To the latter point, there’s no reason to think that the Mohegan Sun Pocono would generate a dramatically different amount of money for state coffers than the other books already operating in the state.

As you can see from the PGCB’s latest monthly statement, Pennsylvania books are taxed at 36 percent (the highest rate in the nation), and the venues turn handles that reflect their general popularity. And though there is a large range between the highest-volume and lowest-volume books, the numbers are wholly as expected.

The Mohegan Sun Pocono is not the most heavily-trafficked gambling destination in the state, so their projected revenue and tax contribution will be non-controversially on the smaller side.

Nevertheless, Downs Racing claims that the addition of sports wagering should provide a measurable boost to the local economy, writing that it will “significantly expand the positive economic impact the casino currently provides to the commonwealth, local municipalities and residents.”

Some analysts hold that the reason for the application’s redactions has to do with the fact that the new initiative is unlikely to increase direct employment in the area.

In practice, a sportsbook does not take a great deal of added staff to work the few ticket windows that the pastime requires for smooth operations. Even a very busy book only needs a few extra employees because most of the sportsbook operations piggyback onto the site’s existing workflow and staffing structure.

There are already over 1500 people employed by the Mohegan Sun Pocono, and any added staff in support of new sports wagering products would be trivial. Ancillary jobs created as a down-market result of expanded sports betting at the Mohegan Sun Pocono are a sure thing, but the specifics are difficult (if not impossible) to pin down.

That said, Downs Racing writes in their petition that sports betting would come with “long-term economic benefits such as increased tax revenue to the commonwealth and a boost to the local and state economy via an increase in spending on various goods and services.”

The next step for the Mohegan Sun Pocono’s sports wagering application is for company executives to be interviewed before the PGCB. This meeting has not been formally scheduled, but it should be fast-tracked for sometime in the next few weeks.

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