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Pennsylvania online sports betting is officially here, with the first PA sportsbook apps going live before the 2019 NFL season.
In May 2019, more than a half-dozen physical sportsbooks were joined by the first online sportsbooks, where you can bet on both mobile devices and computers.
Mobile PA sports betting launched in May 2019, with SugarHouse Sportsbook first to test its product and go fully live. Parx Sportsbook and Bet Rivers Sportsbook joined in June 2019. FanDuel Sportsbook joined the mix in July 2019.
There should be plenty more mobile sports betting options for the states’ bettors soon. Most operators plan to launch PA sports betting apps in the next couple of months.
Look for more of the companies that have New Jersey sports betting apps to join the market, for instance.
The launch has not been without its hiccups. For the first two months, it was not possible to access a PA online sportsbook from any iOS device (iPhones and iPads). There is no app available in the App Store, but a recent workaround from SugarHouse Sportsbook offers an option for those using Apple devices to be able to play.
Right now, if you want to bet online in PA you need to do it from a computer or Android device.
|SugarHouse Sportsbook PA||May 31, 2019||PA.PlaySugarhouse.com|
|FanDuel Sportsbook PA||July 22, 2019||PA.Sportsbook.FanDuel.com|
|Rivers Sportsbook||June 27, 2019||PA.BetRivers.com|
|Parx Sportsbook||June 27, 2019||PA.ParxCasino.com|
This brand leveraged its New Jersey experience to get a head start on the competition. SugarHouse’s sportsbook has a social feel, with contests, progress bars for bonuses and lists of recent winners. You can bet on a huge range of sports on their platform. This was created by Rush Street Interactive and Kambi. New bettors at this book get a 100% to $250 matched welcome bonus based on their first deposit.
FanDuel Sportsbook PA operates through the license of Valley Forge Casino Resort. The early market leader in New Jersey brings the same app with it to Pennsylvania, with geolocation technology used to determine where the bettor is located. FanDuel offers a risk-free bet up to $500 for new signups.
This brand is associated with the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh; it is also run by Rush Street Interactice and Kambi. You’ll get a matched bonus up to $250 based on your first deposit at the site. Bet Rivers and SugarHouse are sister sites, looking very similar and offering the same bonus deals.
Parx — the biggest casino in PA in terms of revenue — has partnered with international giants GAN and Kambi for sports betting. You’ll get a $10 free bet to wager with and check out the site for signing up.
In addition to the aforementioned sportsbook apps, here are some other brands we expect to see in PA:
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So far, these casinos have applied to offer sports betting or are live with wagering:
|Hollywood||William Hill||November 16, 2018|
|SugarHouse||Kambi||December 13, 2018|
|Rivers||Kambi||December 13, 2018|
|Parx||Kambi||January 10, 2019|
|South Philadelphia Turf Club||Kambi||January 16, 2019|
|Harrah’s Philadelphia||Scientific Games||January 24, 2019|
|Valley Forge||FanDuel||March 12, 2019|
|Valley Forge Race and Sportsbook||Kambi||March 13, 2019|
|Mohegan Sun Pocono||Unibet||TBA|
|Presque Isle Downs||CDI||TBA|
All are expected to have physical sportsbooks where you can go to place a bet and watch games, and many will have online sports betting apps as well. Here are more details on them:
Harrah’s (formerly Chester Downs) is operated by casino giant Caesars Entertainment. You’ll find a racebook and sportsbook at this location. There is also a full casino with slots and table games, plus an event center.
The biggest horse races of the year take place at the Penn National, located close to Philadelphia. You’ll find a sportsbook and racebook (offering live and simulcast betting) here. In addition to the big casino, Penn National has a poker room.
Rivers Casino was among the first movers for their live sportsbook (opening in December 2018) and online sports betting site (BetRivers which opened in June 2019). You’ll find a big casino, along with a poker room at their Pittsburgh location.
Located on the banks of the Delaware River on the site of an old sugar refinery, SugarHouse used their experience in NJ to launch first in PA. Their live sportsbook and online site were both first in Pennsylvania. SugarHouse is a casino resort, offering slots, table games, dining and entertainment.
Another racetrack casino offering both a sportsbook and racebook (with live and Simulcast options). Parx is the single biggest PA casino. It hosts more than 3,300 slots, 180 table games and a huge poker room – along with entertainment options. Parx is located close to Philadelphia.
This is an off-track betting facility office which is licensed to Parx. It is located in downtown Philadelphia. This OTB has allowed horse race betting for many years, and now includes a full live sportsbook, bars and a restaurant.
This is another Parx-licensed OTB. Again, they have expanded from horse race betting via simulcast to a full sports betting site.
Separate from the Valley Forge Race and Sportsbook, the casino has partnered with FanDuel to open a branded sportsbook. This is a smaller resort than many of the PA casinos, with only 600 slots.
Late in 2017, Pennsylvania legalized sports betting as part of a comprehensive gaming expansion. That law contained an activation clause which was recently met.
The US Supreme Court struck down the federal ban known as PASPA, clearing the way for state-based legislation. Prior to the ruling, Nevada held what amounted to a legal monopoly on single-game wagering in the US.
States are now permitted to set their own laws, and PA is poised to take full advantage of the opportunity to offer sports betting.
The law permits wagering on both professional and collegiate events. Bets can be placed in person, online, or on a mobile device. Bettors must be at least 21 years old.
License applicants are required to pay a one-time fee of $10 million for sports betting. Once granted, the licensee’s revenue is taxed at a rate of 36 percent.
PA sports betting falls under the regulation of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. The PGCB is responsible for licensing, and the rigorous testing for online sportsbooks before they go live. Compliance and responsible gambling enforcement are also handled by the PGCB.
You can now bet on all pro sports, college games and international sporting events. The only legal requirements are that you are over 21, inside state lines and not on a self-exclusion list; this applies to both live and online bets. There is no requirement to be a permanent resident of Pennsylvania.
There are some restrictions for betting:
Horse racing is also available, though these are licensed separately. There are three legal online horse betting sites available in PA – along with actual racetracks and OTB facilities.
Unless you have traveled to live sportsbooks in Nevada or (more recently) bet online or live in New Jersey – many of the options for sports betting will be new.
Here are the key steps for placing a bet online in Pennsylvania:
Soon after your match is over, your bet will be settled. Money will be available in your account, and any bonus funds you cleared will be released.
Innovations in online sports betting mean you can now place wagers on games as they occur. This is known as either in-play or live betting. It works on mobile devices, and certainly adds interest while you are watching a match. The odds will update in real time as the action unfolds – and you place bets in the usual way.
Some sportsbooks will offer early bet redemption, also known as cash-out betting.
A big advantage of regulated PA sportsbooks is that you can deposit with confidence.
Here are the main deposit methods welcomed at online sportsbooks:
Not all of these options are available at all PA online sportsbooks at launch.
Withdrawals are usually handled with the above options.
There are a lot of pro sports teams in PA – along with golf and horse racing. If you prefer motor sports, soccer or tennis, there are plenty of betting options for those too. This section outlines the main PA teams, and the types of bet you can now place on their matches.
With Pittsburgh and Philadelphia having sports teams in different leagues, there is surprisingly little direct rivalry in the Keystone state. For hockey fans, that rivalry is fierce – with both teams in the same conference.
Here are the PA pro sports teams, with some notes on unique bets you can place on them at the newly regulated sportsbooks.
The Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers pro football teams play in different conferences and play each other every four years in the regular season. There are a lot of prop bets available for the NFL, including yards-based wagers, first player (or team) to score and totals for both individual matches and all the day’s action.
Again, the two pro teams — the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies — don’t meet too often, thanks to playing in different divisions. Run line and moneyline bets are popular for baseball. Popular prop bets for MLB include strikeouts, hits and the combination ‘runs, hits and errors’ score.
There is only one pro basketball team in PA – the Philadelphia 76ers. While the team is on the rise after years in the basement of the league, the Sixers haven’t won a title since 1983. Many NBA bets involve spreads, moneylines and totals. Betting for each quarter is also popular.
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers are both in the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference. The Penguins have had a lot more success in recent years than the Flyers, so the rivalry has been a bit lopsided Spreads go under the name ‘puck line’ in Hockey. Other unique bets include correct scores, period betting and first goal scorer.
There are six racetracks in Pennsylvania. Three host thoroughbred races, three are harness racing only. You can bet on races from all around the country via simulcast at these tracks. You can also bet at OTB (off track betting) offices – some of which now offer full sports betting alongside horse races.
Horse race betting has been taking place online for quite some time. These bets are not included in the newly regulated sportsbooks. If you place bets at TwinSpires, TVG or BetAmerica, you’ll be entering the pari-mutuel pools, just as you would at the racetracks.
Pennsylvania hosts several graded races each year. The biggest is the Pennsylvania Derby, a Grade 1 race with a $1 million purse. Other big races include the Governor’s Cup, Penn Mile Stakes and Greenwood Cup.
How did sports betting come to the Keystone state? Here’s a look back:
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has always stated that the process for licensing sports betting would go slowly. Retail sportsbooks first started to open in late 2018.
For online betting, the PGCB’s approach involves testing periods, before each website and apps are signed off.
SugarHouse was first to go live, completing their testing period and going live in May 2019. This sportsbook has experience in New Jersey, using a platform provided by Rush Street Interactive and odds feed from Kambi. More sportsbook apps quickly followed.
Rep. Rob Matzie grabbed the reins on sports betting legislation. In January, he introduced H 519 as a follow-up to Rep. Rick Kotik‘s bill on the same topic. The new bill went several steps further, than its predecessor, though.
In addition to modifying constitutional language, H 519 directed the PGCB to promulgate regulations “establishing the rules and procedures for sports wagering.” It laid out the full skeleton for a legalized and regulated sports betting industry.
The bill included a $5 million licensing fee and an 18 percent tax on revenue. Any effects of the bill were to be on hold until a decision is rendered in Christie vs. NCAA.
The House Gaming Oversight Committee signed off on the bill in April, but that was the end of the road for that particular piece of legislation. The sports betting conversation was far from over, though.
While all of that had been going on in the sports betting arena, other lawmakers had been pushing for more comprehensive gaming expansion.
The state was dealing with an enormous budget deficit, at a stalemate on how to fix it. Gaming, and specifically online gambling, was occasionally used as leverage in the discussions. Some saw it as a way to slow the financial leak, and the matter dropped in and out debate over the series of several months.
H 271 ended up being the pivotal piece of legislation.
The bill was introduced in January by Rep. Jason Ortitay. On its surface, it had the modest goal of modifying the state’s problem gambling hotline. Lawmakers indicated that it was hiding much larger ambitions, though.
Rep. George Dunbar said that the bill was intended to be a vehicle for a comprehensive gaming package. “We put in one thing, tablets in airports, and basically said, ‘You load it up with what you want in it,'” Dunbar said.
And load it up they did. The bill went through several changes over the subsequent months, touching on nearly every format of gaming and gambling. In the sixth version, the House added in Matzie’s sports betting provisions for the first time. It went through one more tweak before being passed and concurred by the full General Assembly.
On Oct. 30, Gov. Tom Wolf signed the bill into law, officially legalizing sports betting in Pennsylvania, pending a change in federal law
The following January, the House Gaming Oversight Committee took up Rep. Matzie’s resolution. The committee passed it, and the House subsequently did so, as well.
The resolution didn’t do anything from a practical standpoint, but it put Matzie at the forefront of the state’s sports betting efforts. And the numbers by which it passed were foreshadowing.
In 2015, Kotik issued a memo regarding a forthcoming piece of legislation:
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation that will legalize sports betting in our Pennsylvania licensed casinos. Sports betting is exceptionally popular in our state and it is going unregulated. The intent of this legislation is to provide our casinos with an alternative form of entertainment, while also, regulating a popular market.
Kotik followed through on Oct. 14, introducing H 1627 into the House. The bill sought to repeal the state’s prohibition on betting on sports.
In December, Matzie spearheaded a resolution aimed at Congress. H 619 urged Congress to repeal the federal ban on sports betting, allowing Pennsylvania and other states to legalize it as they saw fit:
States that already authorize, license and regulate casino gaming are uniquely positioned to oversee sports betting, in all its forms, if they so choose. The time has come for the federal government to allow the state’s to make their own decisions on sports betting.
Matzie had co-sponsored Kotik’s bill, as well.
With perhaps half a dozen more sports betting brands likely to go live in 2019, there will be plenty of choice for bettors. The competition between these brands should end up being a positive for the market. In addition, online casinos and poker rooms will be joining the sportsbooks soon.
A lot of the political support for online sports betting (and other forms of gambling) came from the tax revenues that this activity could generate. All eyes are now on the sites to see if they can match the projections from a 2015 study. With a bigger population (and higher taxes) than New Jersey, there is every chance these targets can be met.
Read on for questions and answers about PA sports betting:
Yes. Pennsylvania legalized sports betting in 2017, and the law became active upon repeal of PASPA.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has regulatory jurisdiction over the state’s sports betting operations.
The law permits any “slot machine license” to apply for a “sports wagering certificate.” That is, the state’s casinos and racinos.
There are currently 12 of them:
Yes, as long as you’re physically located within the state’s borders.
Anyone over the age of 21 can legally bet on sports in Pennsylvania.
The potential market is hard to gauge. The first month of sports betting in 2019 generated $32 million in wagers, mostly in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Now that federal law has changed, there could be significant competition in the Northeast, especially. New Jersey opened shop in 2018 and New York could follow in 2019, which could further cap Pennsylvania’s potential revenue.
At this point, it’s too early to tell how many operators will even move into the space, let alone what the revenue numbers might look like under the burdensome 36 percent tax rate.
Offshore sportsbooks that serve customers in PA violate a number of federal laws and state laws. While bettors likely won’t get in trouble for placing a bet an offshore site, all of them do so illegally. Only sportsbooks that have a PGCB logo are legal in PA.
There is no DraftKings app for sports betting available in PA, but there could be one in the future.
Daily Fantasy Sports contests were regulated as part of the 2017 Gaming Expansion act, and you can legally play DFS at DraftKings.
Yes. There is already a physical FanDuel Sportsbook at the Valley Forge Casino. A FanDuel Sportsbook app should be live in 2019.
This depends whether you are using an Android or Apple device.
Yes, PA has 6 racetracks, many OTB offices and allows bets on horse races online at existing websites too.
While PayPal is a deposit option at many online sportsbooks, it is not yet available in PA.
Yes. PA betting law allows bets on college games as well as pro sports.