What can’t you bet on in Pennsylvania?
All states have a restriction for betting on high-school sports events, and Pennsylvania is no exception.
The major omission is for bets on non-sporting contests. An example of this is the NFL draft, which you can’t bet on either at live or online PA sportsbooks.
You can’t bet on esports in Pennsylvania.
If you are involved professionally in a sporting league (for example as an official or coach), then you can’t bet on your sport.
Pennsylvania sports betting apps
Apple recently dealt iPhone users a blow. The company decided to restrict new gambling apps from its App Store until they are re-created in Apple’s programming language.
The only exception to this is FanDuel, which does have a sportsbook app in the App Store. It uses the same app in both NJ and PA.
While Google has some restrictions, there are alternative ways of getting apps onto your Android devices. You can download these directly from sportsbook websites. While you will need to click some warning messages about “unknown sources,” the process is straightforward.
Apple devices don’t have alternative means of downloading apps. This means that until the PA sportsbooks comply with the new rules, iPhone and iPad apps are not available from most companies. You can use some of the apps via a browser with an additional geolocation app.
Pros and cons of PA sports betting apps
- Quicker to load and to navigate.
- Better for areas with slow network coverage.
- Intuitive navigation and everything within “thumbs’ reach.”
- No PA sports betting apps for Apple devices until they are re-coded.
- Take up space on your phone (particularly crucial if you bet at several books).
- Additional software may be necessary for geolocation.
Location detection and state borders
There are sometimes advantages to being second. When New Jersey launched its online gambling sites, there were a lot of issues with geolocation. Since the law strictly prohibits the books from allowing bets or real money deposits outside of state borders, it is important to locate app users accurately.
What happened initially in New Jersey was “false negatives.” Players close to the border had their access or deposits blocked.
Fortunately, by the time apps arrived in Pennsylvania, this issue was mostly fixed.
For desktop devices, the technology will triangulate your known location with Wi-Fi data. For mobile devices without Wi-Fi switched on, there might still be the occasional issue next to the border. If this affects you too often, you can download additional software to assess your location more accurately.
You will be able to access your accounts from outside of PA, though bets and deposits are strictly prohibited.
Legal sports betting in PA
There are options for placing bets at casinos, racetracks, off-track betting (OTB) facilities and, of course, online betting in Pennsylvania. This section covers all of these with locations and opening hours information for each. You will also find information covering betting on horse racing below. The treatment there is different from sports betting; websites plus live betting have been around for a while.
Before getting to the venues, here are the most popular sports, with an emphasis on the local PA teams.
Overview: Popular legal sports for betting in Pennsylvania
With representation in the major leagues in all the main sports, PA residents and visitors can now enjoy wagers on all of their favorite teams. Below are the opportunities to bet on local NHL, NFL, MLB and NBA games.
Some bets are common to all sports (moneyline, totals and spreads). You will also find many individual bet types covering each sport. You’ll find these by locating your match in a sportsbook app or website, then click the “more bets” or “all bets” link.
Major sports will also see inclusion in the live betting options, which means you’ll be able to place wagers while the match is underway.
NHL bets in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is home to two hockey teams:
- Philadelphia Flyers: Wells Fargo Center, 3601 South Broad St., Philadelphia
- Pittsburgh Penguins: PPG Paints Arena, 1001 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh
With two teams in the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference, there are regular rivalry matches. This fierce rivalry is known as the “Battle of Pennsylvania.” Things reached fever pitch on four occasions in recent years — when the two teams met in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
You can bet on the conference winners and Stanley Cup results at the start of the season. When it comes to individual NHL matches, you can enjoy period betting for each of the three periods, first (or next) goal scorer and correct scores. Spreads are known as the “puck line” in hockey betting.
NFL bets in Pennsylvania
The Keystone State is home to two major football teams. Again, these are located in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh:
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Heinz Field, 100 Art Rooney Ave., Pittsburgh, PA
- Philadelphia Eagles: Lincoln Financial Field, 1020 Pattison Ave., Philadelphia, PA
With the two PA football teams in different conferences, matches between them are rare, only once every four years. Both teams have a rich history, established in 1933.
NFL betting includes many unique wagers. Under the “props” heading you’ll be able to bet the under or over for each quarterback’s yards, or the running back’s yards/carries. Bets on the first team or even player to score are also popular. The NFL is also a popular sport for teaser bets and regular parlays.
MLB bets in Pennsylvania
As with the football teams, the two Major League Baseball teams in PA play in separate divisions. This means that their rivalries are with out-of-state teams. As with the other major sports, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have one team each:
- Pittsburgh Pirates: PNC Park, 115 Federal Street, Pittsburgh, PA
- Philadelphia Phillies: Citizens Bank Park, 1 Citizens Bank Way, Philadelphia, PA
The large number of fixtures in the MLB season — along with teams in two different divisions — mean that there are a lot of betting opportunities.
There are several bets unique to baseball. These include the popular “run line” bets. This is a variation of point spreads, which appear in many sports. Unlike regular spreads, which try to even up the teams’ chances, run lines are always plus or minus 1.5 points.
Prop bets include the number of strikeouts per pitcher, or hits per batter. You can combine the total number of runs, hits and errors in the popular R + H + E props. Bets on the first five innings are also available.
Totals bets on the entire day’s action are the final unique MLB bet. If you can guess the under / over on the runs for all fixtures on a day, you could win the “grand salami.”
NBA bets in Pennsylvania
While the other major sports have two top-tier teams, basketball sees Pennsylvania represented only once in the top flight. This is the Philadelphia 76ers — usually known simply as the “Sixers.”
Dating back to 1946, the Sixers play in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference. They play at Wells Fargo Center, which the Flyers NHL team also calls home.
The high scoring nature of games means there is plenty of scope for totals and spread bets in the NBA. These can be team totals, match totals or even prop bets on totals for individual players. Quarter betting on the game periods is also possible.
A different way of approaching wins for NBA bets is to wager on a big or little win. A big win is 10 or more points, with a little win is 1-9. A fun way to bet is to select whether the total for both teams will be odd or even.
Betting on horse races in Pennsylvania
You can bet on horse races in three ways. First, head to the tracks and place a bet there on either live action or simulcasts for other tracks. Second, there are OTBs (many known as turf clubs) dotted around the state. You can also bet online on horse races. Separate sites exist for this, including BetAmerica, TVG and TwinSpires. These sites are legal, and US-based. They give you access to the parimutuel betting pools that operate at the tracks and OTB offices.
Note that the newly regulated PA sportsbooks do not offer betting on horse races.
Below are the racetracks in Pennsylvania:
- Hollywood Casino at Penn National Racecourse (thoroughbred)
- Parx Casino and Racing (thoroughbred)
- Presque Isle Downs & Casino (thoroughbred)
- Harrah’s Philadelphia (harness)
- The Meadows Racetrack (harness)
- Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs (harness)
The most famous horse in PA racing history is Smarty Jones. He won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2004 and finished second in the Belmont Stakes.
Pennsylvania has its own Grade 1 stakes. This is the Pennsylvania Derby. With a purse of $1 million, this event attracts the best 3-year-olds in the country. It is run over 9 furlongs on dirt at the Parx Racetrack.
Other famous races in PA include the Penn Mile Stakes, Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup Stakes and Greenwood Cup Stakes.
Off-track betting in PA
You can bet on horse races at tracks around the country, via off-track betting venues. Simulcast streams and access to parimutuel betting pools are available at the six horse racing tracks. In addition, there are seven “turf club” venues.
These show races and allow you to bet, and they have bar and dining options. Note that the Valley Forge Turf Club already allows sports betting in addition to horse racing bets.