Legal Sports Report

Pennsylvania Online Sports Betting

Pennsylvania sports betting is here and now online. With eight sportsbooks up and running, all PA sports betting operations were retail-only, but that changed in May 2019.

PA online sports betting goes live in 2019

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.

There should be plenty more mobile sports betting options for the states’ bettors soon, including FanDuel Sportsbook in the near future. 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. Right now, it’s not possible to access a PA online sportsbook from any iOS device (iPhones and iPads). There is no app available in the App Store, and users are even blocked from using the sportsbook on a browser on an iOS device.

Right now, if you want to bet online in PA you need to do it from a computer or Android device.

App/WebsiteLaunch dateURL
SugarHouse Sportsbook PAMay 31,
Parx SportsbookIn TestingTBA
Rivers SportsbookIn TestingTBA
Fanduel Sportsbook PATBATBA

PA sportsbooks

So far, these casinos have applied to offer sports betting or are live with wagering:

PropertySupplier/PartnerOpening date
HollywoodWilliam HillNovember 16, 2018
SugarHouseKambiDecember 13, 2018
RiversKambiDecember 13, 2018
ParxKambiJanuary 10, 2019
South Philadelphia Turf ClubKambiJanuary 16, 2019
Harrah’s PhiladelphiaScientific GamesJanuary 24, 2019
Valley ForgeFanDuelMarch 12, 2019
Valley Forge Race and SportsbookKambiMarch 13, 2019
Mohegan Sun PoconoUnibetTBA
Mount AiryBetStarsTBA
Presque Isle DownsCDITBA

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.

PA sportsbook apps and sites

Many of the above sportsbook locations will also have sportsbook apps.

Here’s a list of potential and/or likely PA sports betting apps:

PA sports betting options

Here’s where you can place a sports wager in Pennsylvania today:

Rivers Sportsbook

Rivers accepted its first sports bets in PA in December 2018 and began live mobile app testing in June 2019. Situated close to Heinz Field and PNC Park, Rivers should attract a strong following in Pittsburgh. Rush Street Interactive and Kambi power the operation.

SugarHouse Sportsbook

SugarHouse is the first PA casino to launch a mobile sports betting product.

SugarHouse followed Rivers, its sister property, into the PA sports betting market on the same day in December 2018. SugarHouse became the first sports betting option in Philadelphia. The current SugarHouse sportsbook is temporary and will be upgraded this year. This is also a Rush Street Interactive/Kambi shop.

Parx Sportsbook

Located just outside Philadelphia, Parx joined the PA sports betting fray in January 2019 and opened its mobile sports betting operation in June 2019. The temporary Parx online sportsbook is a combination of windows and self-service kiosks. Kambi backs the operation here.

Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course

Hollywood became the first sportsbook to open in Pennsylvania. The casino started its PA sports betting shop in November 2018. William Hill runs the sportsbook at Hollywood, which is located in central Pennsylvania.

South Philadelphia Turf Club

The betting shop located right near the homes of all four major pro sports teams in Philly is open. The location took its first wager in mid-January 2019. This also is a Kambi shop.

Harrah’s Philadelphia

New to the PA sports betting landscape is Harrah’s. The Caesars-owned property took its first bets in late January 2019.

Valley Forge Race and Sportsbook

The latest sportsbook to enter the PA sports betting market is the recently rebranded Valley Forge Race and Sportsbook. The Parx-affiliated property poured in more than $1 million to renovate this book outside Philadelphia. It launched in March 2019.

Valley Forge

The FanDuel Sportsbook-branded operation launched outside Philadelphia in mid-March 2019.

Latest PA sports betting news

Legal sports betting basics in Pennsylvania

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 online sports betting summary

There will be several PA sports betting apps and sites. We still don’t know exactly who will offer them, but most of the casinos above should offer a mobile option for betting.

SugarHouse already has a New Jersey sports betting app and site, for instance.

Pennsylvania also will have online casinos no later than July 15, so expect some of the online gambling platforms to have sports betting, slot machines and table games all in one place. See SugarHouse Sportsbook for an example.

Check back frequently for more information about PA online sports betting.

Pennsylvania sports betting FAQ

Is sports betting legal in Pennsylvania?

Yes. Pennsylvania legalized sports betting in 2017, and the law became active upon repeal of PASPA.

Who oversees Pennsylvania sports betting?

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has regulatory jurisdiction over the state’s sports betting operations.

Where can I bet on sports in Pennsylvania?

So far:

  • Penn National in Grantville
  • Rivers in Pittsburgh
  • Sugarhouse near Philadelphia
  • Parx near Philadelphia
  • South Philly Turf Club in Philadelphia
  • Harrah’s in Philadelphia
  • Valley Forge Race and Sportsbook near Philadelphia
  • Valley Forge Casino near Philadelphia

Soon though, you will be able to bet on sports anywhere within the state. The law permits wagering “by any system or method,” including in person, on the internet and mobile.

Casinos are permitted to use a temporary betting facility for up to 18 months while they construct a more-permanent sportsbook.

As for mobile bettors, their location will be verified via IP address and/or mobile geolocation to ensure they’re inside the state’s borders when wagering.

Who can apply for a Pennsylvania sports betting license?

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:

  • Harrah’s Philadelphia, Chester
  • Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, Grantville
  • Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin, Farmington
  • The Meadows Racetrack and Casino, North Strabane Twp.
  • Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, Wilkes-Barre
  • Mount Airy Casino Resort, Mt. Pocono
  • Parx Casino and Racing, Bensalem
  • Presque Isle Downs & Casino, Erie
  • Rivers Casino, Pittsburgh
  • Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, Bethlehem
  • SugarHouse Casino, Philadelphia
  • Valley Forge Casino Resort, King of Prussia

Can I bet on sports on my phone in Pennsylvania?

Yes, as long as you’re physically located within the state’s borders.

Who can bet on sports in Pennsylvania?

Anyone over the age of 21 can legally bet on sports in Pennsylvania.

How much revenue does Pennsylvania sports betting generate?

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.

Pennsylvania sports betting timeline

2017: A sports betting law on the books

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.

A bill becomes law

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

2016: PA bides its time

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.

2015: Setting the stage for PA sports betting

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.

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