Rush Street Gaming recently launched its first real-money US online gambling site, the PlaySugarHouse.com online casino in New Jersey.
Rush Street doesn’t own or operate an Atlantic City casino. The launch was made possible thanks to a deal between Rush Street and Golden Nugget that allows the Philadelphia-based SugarHouse Casino to operate an online casino under Golden Nugget’s New Jersey operator license – only brick & mortar casino properties in Atlantic City are eligible to receive online gaming operator licenses.
California’s Pala Band of Mission Indians took a similar approach to entering the New Jersey online gambling market when they partnered with Borgata back in November of 2014.
Like Pala, Rush Street will be able to field test its proprietary online gambling software in New Jersey. Unlike Pala, Rush Street’s SugarHouse Casino is located in nearby Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and has a strong New Jersey customer base.
With its entry into New Jersey, and with Pennsylvania on the precipice of passing an online gambling bill, Rush Street is suddenly positioning itself as a major player in the US online gaming market.
Location, location, location
If you were a land-based casino company interested in online gambling, you’d be hard pressed to place casinos in better markets than the locales Rush Street’s are located in. In addition to its PlaySugarHouse.com online casino in New Jersey, Rush Street just so happens to have casinos in three states that are top candidates for online gaming expansion: Pennsylvania, New York, and Illinois.
- SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Rivers Casino in Des Plaines (Chicago area), Illinois
- Rivers Casino in Schenectady, New York
Rush Street in Pennsylvania
Rush Street operates two of the top four casinos in Pennsylvania. Rivers is third highest grossing casino in Pennsylvania and SugarHouse is fourth and climbing, and combined, SugarHouse and Rivers eclipse all other casinos in the state in revenue. Because they are a two-headed-monster, Rush Street should be able to challenge juggernaut Parx as the top online gambling brand in the state; the other Pennsylvania juggernaut, Sands, is unlikely to launch an online gambling site in Pennsylvania due to Sheldon Adelson’s steadfast opposition to online gambling.
Also to its advantage, Rush Street is using software that was built in-house, so it won’t have to find an online partner, and it won’t have to split revenue/profits with said partner. This means Rush Street casinos will have more skin in the online gambling game, and it won’t have to coordinate marketing and promotions with an iGaming partner.
Rush Street in New York
The New York Senate passed a bill that would have legalized online poker this year, but the Assembly decided not to act on it. It’s widely believed they will revisit online poker in 2017.
If Pennsylvania gets a bill passed this year it should help spur on New York, and if New York does legalize online poker in the near future (I know, that’s a lot of if’s) Rush Street would likely be an online gambling leader in the northeast, with access to about 40 million US residents in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Rush Street in Illinois
It may not be as far along in the online gambling process, but Illinois is one of Five States to Watch in 2017, largely based on the state’s success with online lottery sales.
Rush Street in Massachusetts?
Finally, a Rush Street casino project in Massachusetts may be resurrected if the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is unable to gain the proper approval to build a casino in southeastern Massachusetts – the Rush Street project in Brockton looked like it would be awarded the state’s third and final casino license, but was shot down by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission when the Mashpee Tribe began construction on a casino in nearby Taunton. The Rush Street project could be back on the table depending on how the Mashpee Wampanoag case shakes out in court.
Massachusetts is on everyone’s short-list of potential online gambling candidates.
Will the Golden Nugget deal extend beyond New Jersey and Pennsylvania?
In addition to its Atlantic City property, Landry’s (the parent company of Golden Nugget) operates several other casino around the country in the following states:
You’ll notice there is very little overlap between Rush Street properties and Golden Nugget properties. If either company were interested in expanding its online gambling footprint in the US, it’s possible Rush Street and Golden Nugget could extend their relationship beyond New Jersey and Pennsylvania, assuming future online gambling bills in these other states allow for such partnerships. And assuming both parties found the deal mutually beneficial.