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More than a third of the active casinos in Pennsylvania have now petitioned the state to offer sports betting, after SugarHouse Casino in the Philadelphia area and Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh sent their requests to regulators.
Both casinos are owned by Rush Street Gaming.
Rivers joined them on Friday.
That means five of the state’s 12 casinos are now looking to get into sports betting. A 13th — the unbuilt stadium casino in Philly — is also in theory eligible to petition for sports betting.
Parx and Hollywood will have their petitions considered by the PA Gaming Control Board next week. Several others will also be heard about their plans to move forward with online slot machines, table games and poker.
SugarHouse is certainly not a shocking entrant into the market. It’s already actively involved in both New Jersey online casinos and online sports betting. It will also offer PA online casino games once the state goes live for that.
The entrance of SugarHouse means all three of the Philly-area casinos are in the mix. That should also not be shocking given that it has teams in all the major pro leagues and fans with a rabid interest in sports. And once Rush Street got involved, it was fairly obvious that Rivers would follow as well.
Some had questioned the appetite of casinos for sports wagering given a $10 million licensing fee and a 36 percent effective tax rate. But as more get into the game, those concerns are going out the window, even if their ability to make reasonable profits remain.
That’s still unknown. No petitions have yet been approved by the PGCB.
The smart money is on the first retail (aka physical sportsbooks) going live some time this fall, perhaps not in October but in November or December.
Online sports betting is likely coming at an even later date. The process for rolling out online casinos and poker is ahead of sports betting, and that’s likely not coming until later this year, either.