In May 2018, when the U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for Pennsylvania sports betting to be permitted by striking out the 1992 ‘Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act’, there must have been some party in the Keystone State.
State legislature approved a bill (and Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf signed it) just seven months beforehand, it allowed casino gambling at truck stops, airports and online. This bill also made Pennsylvania the fourth state to legalise online gambling, joining the likes of Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware.
Gambling, if not Pennsylvania sports betting, was already huge business in the state. In 2016 around 18,000 people were employed by the various racetracks and casinos in the state, and they generated approximately $1.4 billion annually in tax revenue. It put Pennsylvania second only to Nevada in commercial casino revenues and ahead of New Jersey despite it being home to Atlantic City.
So everything was in place for the repealing of the 1992 laws and the state is now in a prime position to exploit laws which will allow it to benefit from betting legally in Pennsylvania.
While Pennsylvania has the infrastructure and is clearly packed full with potential sports betting customers (incidentally you do not need to be a Pennsylvania resident to place bets in the state’s casinos), it has not rushed off in the same way New Jersey or Delaware has.
In other words, no sports bets at fixed odds have yet been placed and that will not happen until applications have been received by Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board from people/organisations wishing to be licensed to accept fixed-odds sports bets.
And with an application for a ‘Sports Betting Certificate’ costing $10m, it looks like the only places to initially bet legally in Pennsylvania will be the big corporation owned casinos and racinos.
The state currently has six racinos, four stand-alone casinos and two resort casinos. There are also 18 off-track wagering outlets.
But, in all likelihood, if you want to bet legally in Pennsylvania from the outset, you will probably be in the SugarHouse Casino, Parx Casino, Harrah’s in Philadelphia, Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh and Penn National’s Hollywood Casino as these are the major players in the state with the necessary financial resources.
Just which casinos and online sports betting sites in Pennsylvania stump up the requisite $10 million for a sports betting licence remains to be seen. And with a whopping 36 percent tax levied on them some may choose to not bother. Others will unquestionably choose to cosy-up to an established Pennsylvania sports betting provider who can offer knowhow, software and lessen the initial financial blow.
Once again 888 seem well positioned. Their poker site has been offering its services to Pennsylvania operators for a number of years and they are a respected and trusted site.
William Hill have sportsbooks operating in Nevada in association with Caesars Entertainment so you can probably expect to find them running the Harrah’s sports betting operation in Philadelphia along with their online spin-off site.
In one sense the state was well prepared for the legalization of Pennsylvania sports betting in the U.S. but they have only drafted temporary regulations and upon receipt of a completed application the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board state they will take up to 120 days to conduct background checks and infrastructure reviews before issuing a licence to allow their customers to bet legally in Pennsylvania.
Ultimately fully legal Pennsylvania sports betting will probably not be rolled-out until the end of 2018 and it looks inevitable fixed-odds sports bets will initially only be able to be placed in a few of the bigger casinos and their associated online sites.