PENNSYLVANIA GAMBLING FAQ
WHAT FORMS OF ONLINE GAMBLING ARE LEGAL IN PENNSYLVANIA?
You can play casino games, enjoy online poker, wager on sporting events, bet on horses, and play state lottery games online in Pennsylvania.
HOW DO CASINOS AND SPORTSBOOKS KNOW I AM LOCATED IN PENNSYLVANIA?
Online casinos and sportsbooks in Pennsylvania are required to keep and maintain geolocation verification software as part of their online platforms. The software allows them to pinpoint a user’s location at any point during play.
This software mostly uses the inboard GPS found on mobile devices in order to work. However, should you use one of the few sites (like BetRivers and SugarHouse) that will allow play through browsers, you will need to verify your location through a separately-downloaded geolocation app called GeoGuard.
Geolocation software is designed to err on the side of caution when it comes to verifying a person’s location. You are more likely to be falsely denied service than you are to circumvent the system from out of state.
WHAT IS THE LEGAL AGE TO GAMBLE IN PENNSYLVANIA?
You need to be 18+ to bet on horses (or enter a racetrack casino) and to buy lottery tickets. For other forms of gambling and land-based casinos, the minimum age is 21.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO GAMBLE ONLINE?
Anyone 21+ who is within the Pennsylvania state lines can gamble online. There is no requirement to be a permanent resident.
DO PA GAMBLING SITES OFFER BONUSES?
Yes. There is much competition between the casino brands, and there are many opportunities to grab a welcome bonus. These take several forms:
- Free play bonuses: Small amounts (for example $20) simply for registering
- Matched first deposit bonuses: Usually a 100% match to your first deposit
- Comp / loyalty point schemes: Online gambling sites will reward your play, often using tiered loyalty schemes
- Promos / special offers: It is worth keeping an eye on the “promotions” pages for extra deals
HOW DO PA GAMBLING SITES ENFORCE RESPONSIBLE GAMBLING?
Responsible gambling is part of the licensing requirements for online gambling sites. They need to provide information, links to help organizations and tools for timeout / bet limits / self-exclusion. A complaints process via the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board could be used to flag any issues with the sites.
AM I ABLE TO DEPOSIT WITH A CREDIT CARD OR PAYPAL?
It depends. Many online casinos and sportsbooks in Pennsylvania will accept deposits from credit cards and debit cards. As a general rule, Visa and Mastercard are usually the brands of choice, although American Express and other credit companies can sometimes appear as an option.
The problem with depositing into one of these sites may actually depend on your bank, rather than the casino itself. Several banks, including large operators like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Chase, have established a policy of not allowing deposits to online gambling merchants.
Even if you do happen to have a card from a bank that will accept deposits to a gambling site, the bank may still consider the deposit to be a cash advance. Cash advance fees on credit cards can sometimes be quite painful to pay.
For PayPal, things are a little easier to manage. Most PayPal users will be able to adapt their accounts to make deposits with the service. However, take a moment to check on the fees attached with such a transaction before you send it through.
CAN I HAVE MULTIPLE ACCOUNTS?
No. Accounts are limited to one per person and one per physical location / household. This is to prevent bonus abuse. Detecting multiple accounts is very simple, and those accounts will be locked.
WHAT PERCENTAGE OF REVENUE GOES TOWARDS TAXES?
Pennsylvania has a high tax rate for gambling activities compared to other states. This is an effective rate of 36%, in addition to a $10 million license fee. While this caused controversy when introduced, it has not prevented the sale of licenses.
DO I HAVE TO PAY TAX ON GAMBLING WINNINGS IN PENNSYLVANIA? IF SO, HOW MUCH?
Yes, gambling winnings are taxed at 3.07%.
IS OFF-TRACK BETTING LEGAL IN PA?
Yes. You will find several OTBs around the state. These are listed in the article above.
HOW BIG IS THE PA SPORTS BETTING AND CASINO MARKET?
Sizeable. So far, PA sports bettors have placed more than $1.75 billion in sports bets since sports betting began in 2018. Of that handle, PA sportsbooks have realized nearly $105 million in revenue.
Online casinos are still finding their footing, but they are performing solidly so far. They have already grabbed tens of millions in revenue, and are winning nearly $14 million per month at this point.