Updated on September 15, 2020
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.
Since then the state has introduced over a dozen land-based sportsbooks and counting along with half-a-dozen sports wagering apps that are available state-wide. The Pennsylvania sports betting market has proven to be one of the most profitable in the country, despite early doubts.
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 Isle Downs
- Rivers Casino
- The Meadows Racetrack and Casino
- SugarHouse Casino
- Downs at Lehigh Valley
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.
Cordish Companies is looking to get on that action as well. They have announced that Live! Casino & Hotel, which will be located in the stadium district of Philadelphia, will come with a retail sportsbook. They also plan to launch a mobile sportsbook through that sports betting license. Both are expected to launch in 2020.
Cordish is also trying to use the same license to open a sportsbook at their upcoming mini-casino located near Pittsburgh. The PGCB is still debating whether or not they will allow them to.
Wind Creek Bethlehem is also expected to launch its PA sportsbook in the second half of 2020. The casino has partnered with Betfred and Scientific Games in order to launch a retail and digital sports wagering platform.
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 concrete 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. Ever since Parx’s application for the South Philadelphia Turf Club, other gaming venues have done the same. They have played a major 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
- DraftKings Sportsbook PA
- Unibet Sportsbook
- Caesars sportsbook
- Barstool Sportsbook
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.
BetAmerica sportsbook also launched its online platform in December of 2019. They were able to do so through their partnership with Presque Isle Downs. BetAmerica is currently available only through an online browser, but a mobile app is in development.
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 has grown since then.
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.
Pennsylvania Sports Betting FAQs
Do I have to register to use a Pennsylvania sports betting app inside a casino?
No. In-person registration is not required for PA sports betting apps. As long as you are located within state lines, you can make an account and begin betting on any team you like.
Can I bet on Penn State and bet on Pitt with a PA sportsbook?
Yes, collegiate betting is available at any sportsbook in Pennsylvania and through any sports betting app in PA. You can bet on colleges within the state and beyond.
Who is in charge of sports betting in Pennsylvania?
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is the regulatory agency is in charge of sports betting in the Keystone State. They issue licenses and report revenue figures for the PA sports betting industry.
How much revenue is generated by Pennsylvania sports betting?
The amount of revenue PA sportsbooks generate each month is different but they have seen a significant and steady rise since the first sportsbook opened in November of 2018.
In the state’s first month of sports betting regulations in November of 2018, PA sportsbooks were able to generate about $509K in revenue. One year later, land-based and online PA sportsbooks were able to generate approximately $20.5 million in revenue for November of 2019 alone.
This number has continued to skyrocket with the introduction of new sports betting apps and sportsbooks over the following months.
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- Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Reports Initial Sports Wagering Revenue
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