Updated on October 23, 2019
Pennsylvania passed laws to allow online gaming before the Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. Lawmakers quickly added sports betting to the law making it one of the first states to enter the market.
The Hollywood Casino operated by Penn National took the state’s first legal sports bets on November 17, 2018.
Eleven casinos/racetracks have paid the $10 million license fee to operate PA sportsbooks. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has approved all of them to begin operations and the venues that now currently offer sports betting in Pennsylvania are as follows:
- Harrah’s Philadelphia
- Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course
- Parx Casino and Racing
- South Philadelphia Turf Club
- Valley Forge Casino
- Valley Forge Race and Sportsbook
- Mount Airy Casino
- Mohegan Sun Pocono
- Presque Isla Downs
- Rivers Casino
- SugarHouse Casino
Greenwood Gaming, owners of the Parx Casino, made a joint application that authorizes sports betting at the casino and the South Philadelphia Turf Club. The PGCB agreed under the condition that betting would not start at the Turf Club until the Parx Casino proves that its new systems work properly. A similar deal was made for Valley Forge and Valley Forge Race and Sportsbook.
Unique to Pennsylvania, the state recently underwent a gaming expansion which included provisions for Category IV casino locations, or mini-casinos. These locations are only granted a set number of slot machines and table games, and must be located a minimum distance away from existing casino properties.
Mini-casinos in Pennsylvania also have the option to offer sports betting but so far no plans have been announced.
Off-track betting locations
Pennsylvania also hosts eight off-track betting facilities that offer wagering on simulcast racing events. At first, it was not clear what role these locations would play in sports betting. Parx’s application for the South Philadelphia Turf Club suggests that they may well play a role in expanding the market.
Legal Sports Betting apps in Pennsylvania
Like other states currently up and running in legalized sports betting, Pennsylvania law allows anyone inside the state borders to bet online or through mobile devices. By state law, mobile apps must be specifically branded for the land-based casinos they represent.
The current legal sports betting apps in Pennsylvania are as follows:
- SugarHouse Sportsbook PA
- Rivers Sportsbook
- Parx Sportsbook
- FanDuel Sportsbook PA
- FOX BET
The first of these casinos to launch was SugarHouse Sportsbook PA when they first went live on May 28, 2019. Parx and Rivers launched their online sports betting apps in Pennsylvania the following month and FanDuel launched in July. FOX BET came in early September, just in time for football season. You can register to use these apps remotely as long as you are within state lines.
Mobile sportsbooks in Pennsylvania have proven to be the preferred method in which bettors put money down on sports in the Keystone state. Within just a couple of months, more than 40% of all money being bet on sports in PA was coming through online platforms. This trend is expected to grow.
Taxes may be a problem
Pennsylvania gaming taxes come in at the extortionate end of the spectrum. The tax rate for sports betting is 36 percent, almost triple the 13 percent tax that New Jersey levies on online sports betting.
Nevada charges only 6.75 percent, which makes it likely that the odds quoted by the Las Vegas sportsbooks will not be available in Pennsylvania.
It is the operators that have to pay these taxes. not the bettors, so there is some scope for absorbing the cost. On the other hand, there is no shortage of casinos determined to get into the market. PA sportsbooks have been able to turn a profit from offering legal sports betting which is why so many casinos chose to bite the bullet when it came to taxes. Complaints about the tax rate may come from the casinos in the future, but they have made it work so far.