Pennsylvania took a huge step toward possibly legalizing sports betting within its borders with a new that it enacted this week.
Now, the prospect of a sportsbook near all the Philadelphia pro sports stadiums and areana is a real possibility, thanks to a new casino getting a go-ahead.
Here comes Philly Live!
The plans for the Live! Hotel and Casino Philadelphia have been around for years. But construction has never started because it was tied up in the courts.
But obstacles stopping it have begun to go away in 2017. The latest? Sugarhouse Casino, which is already located in Philly, just dropped its lawsuit attempt to block it.
Why? More from The Associated Press:
A gambling expansion bill signed Monday by Gov. Tom Wolf repeals a 2004 provision limiting ownership of casinos, a key element of SugarHouse lawsuit. Another provision punishes casino entities with active lawsuits.
That means the casino is almost certainly going to move forward in the near future. That will be a 13th casino in the state, and the fourth in the Philly area.
But things really get interesting when you consider the intersection of Philly Live! and legal sports betting.
Sports betting coming to PA?
The new gaming law just enacted in Pennsylvania legalizes all sorts of things, including PA online casino games and poker.
Among its provisions is the legalization of sports wagering in the state, with a change to the federal ban via the courts or Congress. (The former is a possibility in the New Jersey sports betting case that will be heard by the US Supreme Court next month.)
Under the sports betting language, existing casino licensees — Philly Live! will be one soon — will be able to acquire a license to offer sports betting at a cost of $10 million.
That means the new casino could easily plan to build a sportsbook. And that sportsbook would be literally steps away from Philadelphia’s major pro sports teams:
- Eagles (NFL)
- 76ers (NBA)
- Flyers (NHL)
- Phillies (MLB)
Here, you can see just how close it is to the stadiums.
The pro leagues have historically been against sports wagering
The pro sports leagues, of course, are the plaintiffs in the aforementioned NJ sports betting case. The NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL have joined the NCAA in stopping New Jersey from enacting its sports betting law.
Even if the leagues wanted to try to stop sports betting in PA, there’s not much they could do about it if PASPA is rolled back and PA puts its sports betting law into effect.
But the leagues have also grown more tolerant of sports betting:
- The NFL and NHL have both franchises teams to Las Vegas, the only jurisdiction in the US with legal single-game wagering.
- The NHL hasn’t tried to stop or limit wagering Las Vegas Golden Knights games.
- NBA Commissioner Adam Silver advocates for a “federal framework” for sports betting. (It’s not clear, however, how the NBA might react to a rollout of state-level regulations.)
- MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has said his league is getting ready for a world where sports betting is legal in the US.
Betting in the stadiums, too?
The new sports betting law would also allow for mobile wagering. That opens up the possibility of being able to bet on games while inside the Philadelphia stadiums and arenas.
This wouldn’t be the first time this happened via legal means in the US. You can already place mobile wagers from the comfort of your seat at Knights games.
We’re still several steps away from legal PA sports betting
Of course, none of this is happening tomorrow. PASPA — the federal sports betting ban — still has to come off the books somehow. And the casino actually needs to be built.
But in the not too distant future, Philly sports fans might be able to place bets on their teams’ games before watching them in person.
Image: The Cordish Companies