First Pennsylvania Sports Betting Application Ends A Drought

Penn National Ends The Wait For A Pennsylvania Sports Betting Applicant

Pennsylvania sports betting

The long wait for Pennsylvania sports betting appears to be nearing an end after the state received its first license application Friday.

Penn National submitted its request to start sports betting at Hollywood Casino Penn National Race Course. That request must be accompanied by a $10 million licensing fee, which along with a 36 percent effective tax rate on sports betting revenue long has impeded operators from jumping into Pennsylvania.

The application indicates William Hill will partner with Penn National to run the sportsbook. Earlier today, Penn National announced it will launch West Virginia sports betting, which also will be with William Hill.

“Our plan is to locate our sports book in a newly renovated simulcast theater area at Hollywood Casino and the operations will managed by William Hill US, the largest sports betting operator in the United States. Operations are expected to begin later this fall upon final approval by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board,” said Fred Lipkin, vice president of marketing for the property.

Slow buildup to Pennsylvania sports betting

Whether you consider this May or last year to be your starting point, the delay in operators jumping into Pennsyvlania sports betting feels significant.

Pennsylvania state legislators approved legal sports betting in 2017 with the caveat of the need for federal approval. That green light arrived in May when the Supreme Court struck down PASPA and cleared the way for states to legalize single-game wagering on sports.

The law, though, appeared prohibitive to profit for casinos. The steep licensing fee and upper-end tax rate kept operators out of the Keystone State even after regulators opened the license application period in late May.

Summer announcements built some momentum

As summer wore on without any applicants to the state, speculation about the viability of Pennsylvania’s structure grew. Some even started to speculate whether the state would expand the availability of licenses to casinos not presently operating in Pennsylvania.

Parx broke the seal with the first announcement of Pennsylvania sports betting plans. It will extend its partnership with GAN for its operation.

Next came Mount Airy, which revealed its blueprint for working with The Stars Group to facilitate its sports betting. The Stars Group, operating as PokerStars and BetStars, will bring omnichannel solutions for Pennsylvania gaming.

Who will follow suit in Pennsylvania?

There appeared to be some solidarity in casinos silently rejecting Pennsylvania’s tax and licensing rules, at least in the earlier part of the year. Now the question becomes, who will follow Penn National’s lead?

Here’s the list of Pennsylvania casinos without announced plans:

  • Harrah’s Philadelphia
  • Meadows Casino
  • Mohegan Sun Pocono
  • Nemacolin Woodlands Resort
  • Presque Isle Downs
  • Rivers Casino
  • Sands Casino
  • SugarHouse Casino
  • Valley Forge Resort Casino
Adam Candee
- Adam Candee covers sports business and news from Las Vegas. Adam is a former editor and reporter at the Las Vegas Sun, Arizona Daily Sun and KLAS-TV.