Pennsylvania Sports Betting
Important information on sports betting in Pennsylvania, and the state's other gaming options
Pennsylvania is getting closer to offering sports betting. Although the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has been accepting applications for sports betting operators since May 2018, there has been slow progress towards accepting wagers on sporting events.
The heart of the matter has been the stiff licensing fee and tax rate that the PGCB has decreed casinos must pay. The $10 million fee is well in excess of similar fees in other states, and the 36 percent tax rate is several times higher than the rate in states that don’t work in concert with their casinos.
Pennsylvania sports betting locations
Due to the unique nature of Pennsylvania’s gaming law, it is possible that sports betting could come to three different types of facilities. Obviously, casinos are at the top of the list, but there are ancillary locations that may also take bets on sporting events.
At this point, there are two casinos approved to operate sportsbooks in Pennsylvania. They received their approvals during the Oct. 3 meeting of the PGCB. They are:
There are five other properties that have filed for sports betting licenses but are still waiting for approval. They are:
Pennsylvania’s recent gaming expansion included provisions for Category IV casino locations. These facilities, more commonly known as satellite or “mini-casinos,” have limitations on both their size and geographical location within the state.
In other words, these types of facilities can only have so many slot machines and table games. They must also locate themselves far away from existing casino properties so they don’t cannibalize any markets.
Potentially, these locations could also offer sports betting. They are:
|New Castle||Mount Airy|
|South Newton||Parx Casino|
|West Cocalico||Hollywood Casino|
Off-track Betting Locations
Pennsylvania is also home to eight off-track betting facilities that offer wagering on simulcast racing events. These facilities are owned by companies that also maintain one or more of the casinos around the state.
It was initially unclear what role they might play in sports betting. However, by virtue of Parx’s inclusion of the South Philadelphia Turf Club in its application to the state, it is clear that these OTB locations could also serve as sports betting venues. They are:
- Northeast Turf Club
- South Philadelphia Turf Club
- Valley Forge Turf Club
- Penn National
- Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs
- The Downs at East Stroudsberg
- The Downs at Lehigh Valley
- Meadows Harmar
Parx’s approval on Oct. 3 seemed to have set the stage for South Philadelphia Turf Club’s approval. However, the Office of Enforcement Counsel has required that Parx prove its technology operates correctly before the OTB location receives its own approval.
So, OTB venues may end up with at least one month of delay beyond their parent locations beginning their own sportsbooks. The Oct. 31 meeting of the PGCB should provide more details for how sportsbooks at OTB clubs will proceed.
Pennsylvania sports betting FAQ
Is sports betting legal in Pennsylvania?
Yes! By virtue of a 2017 state law and the Supreme Court’s dismissal of PASPA, Pennsylvania has legalized sports betting.
Where can I bet on sports in Pennsylvania?
Nowhere yet. However, five casinos have applied for licensing to operate brick and mortar sportsbooks at six locations.
Will I be able to bet on my mobile device in Pennsylvania?
Once sites begin to show up, yes. The Pennsylvania law allows anyone inside the state lines to bet online or through mobile devices.
One thing to note is that state law prohibits more than one skin for each license issued. So, the mobile apps you play will be specifically branded for the land-based casinos they represent.
How old must I be to bet sports in Pennsylvania?
You will need to be at least 21 to wager on sports in the Keystone State.
Is there anything I can’t bet?
High school sporting events of any kind are not permitted for wagering. This rule will likely be universal no matter which state you visit.
Collegiate and Olympic sports will likely be available. However, there may be some variation in availability on a case-by-case basis.
What other options for gambling exist in Pennsylvania?
Full-scale gaming operations exist at all the casinos listed above. You can play any number of slots, table games, or other types of games at any of the 12 Pennsylvania casinos. Number 13, Stadium Casino, will soon be under construction in the Philadelphia-area. The new property is slated to open in 2020.
Pennsylvania also has a state lottery for residents and visitors. Some of its lottery games are available to play online.
Online in-state options
Online casinos are expected to launch in Pennsylvania in 2019. So far, 11 of the state’s casino properties have applied for some form of licensure.
Originally, the PGCB offered a package deal where a casino could pay $10 million and receive licenses for online slot play, online table games, and peer-to-peer games, which means online poker.
Eight of the state’s casino properties have applied for these triple packs. They are:
- Harrah’s Philadelphia
- Hollywood Casino
- Mount Airy
- Sands Bethlehem
- Stadium Casino
- Valley Forge
Of the nine, five of them have gained approval for their applications. Those casinos are indicated in bold.
For some reason, Mohegan Sun Pocono applied for all three licenses but missed the deadline for the package deal. So, Mohegan Sun has also applied, but paid $12 million for the fees, and is still waiting on its approval.
Presque Isle Downs applied for online slot play and table games licenses at a cost of $8 million. However, the Erie-area casino chose not to apply for a poker license. Presque Isle is still waiting for approval.
The final two casinos in Pennsylvania, The Meadows Casino and Lady Luck Nemacolin, have not applied for online gaming licensure and are not expected to do so. The Meadows is owned by Penn National, and Lady Luck Nemacolin is operated by Churchill Downs.
Both companies will have online casino gaming in Pennsylvania by virtue of their other properties. Penn National owns Hollywood Casino, and Churchill Downs holds the title on Presque Isle Downs.
Online outside options
Because two of the state’s casinos chose to decline their licenses and Presque Isle only applied for two out of three, there are seven online gaming licenses unclaimed in Pennsylvania.
The PGCB has elected to open an auction process for these remaining licenses. Potentially, companies without a physical foothold in Pennsylvania could own and operate an online gaming site in the Keystone State.
So, it’s possible that some of the bigger names overseas could find their way into the Pennsylvania market. Two notable possibilities would be PokerStars and 888, which both already operate sites in nearby New Jersey.