Complete Guide To Blackjack in Pennsylvania

Updated on August 13, 2019

Online or live, blackjack is the most popular casino game and is available at casino and racino venues in Pennsylvania. You’ll also find roulette, craps, baccarat, and casino poker games.

With the gambling expansion bill, residents and visitors of the Keystone State have even more options to play blackjack. Online casinos opened July 2019. While the current blackjack options amount to a single game at Parx, there will eventually be a wide range of blackjack options, including live dealer games.

On this page, we cover live and online blackjack in Pennsylvania. You’ll find out where to enjoy free blackjack games and how to play for real money online. We also offer information on the variety of formats and rules, and side bets with progressive jackpots.

Finally, we cover bonuses and rewards, discuss the PA laws that govern online table games, and examine what games are available at PA online casinos.

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Is blackjack legal in Pennsylvania?

You can legally play blackjack in Pennsylvania as long as you are 21 years or older at any one of the licensed brick-and-mortar casinos. Also, you can play online for real money at Pennsylvania-licensed online casinos.

The Pennsylvania Gambling Control Board (PGCB) requires casinos to offer fair rules for their blackjack tables. This means paying 3:2 for blackjack, generous splitting or doubling rules, and that the dealer stands on soft 17.

Playing online blackjack for free at PA online casinos

If you would like to check out the games before committing with real money, most online casinos in Pennsylvania offer a demo mode. Many casinos will give you a no-deposit cash bonus to let you try out a game for real money.

Demo games are available only via the software-based blackjack games. You can view live dealer games, though you cannot place practice bets. If you are playing demo games, the software will not remember your wins and losses; you will start fresh each time the game loads.

Real money blackjack games

Real Money Blackjack in PennsylvaniaAll PA online casinos offer one or more real money online blackjack tables. Many also offer generous welcome bonus offers, including free play with no deposit needed.

The key factor when moving to real-money blackjack is to select the games with the lowest house edge, which is a percentage.

The edge shows the long-term outcome of your bets, and when the random draw of cards is accounted for. The best games have a smaller number of decks (single deck is best), liberal doubling and splitting rules (including the ability to double after a split) and have the dealer stand on a soft 17.

When moving to real-money blackjack, you’ll need to know basic strategy. This shows the correct action for every combination of the dealer’s up-card and your two cards. If you play differently than this strategy, you’ll be handing money to the casino over time.

Online casinos have side bets. These add an element of excitement to the game, and big windfalls of cash are possible. Keep in mind that these bets are “expensive” in terms of the house edge.

To play online blackjack for real money at a regulated PA casino, you’ll need to make a deposit. There are many ways to do this safely and securely. Most importantly, you need to be inside PA state lines, and at least 21 years old to play.

Popular deposit options include Visa and Mastercard credit or debit cards and prepaid cards. Also, you can use different types of bank transfers. Old-fashioned wires are expensive, although ACH transfers and bill pay make great alternatives.

In addition, you can use cash at the live casino cage (each online casino is licensed by one of the live venues) or use 7-Eleven and CVS stores with PayNearMe.

Finally, third-party payment systems are popular. Brands the casinos will hopefully use eventually include PayPal, Neteller, and Skrill.

Which PA casinos will offer real money blackjack online?

  • SugarHouse Casino and their partner Rush Street Interactive will deliver online blackjack, along with other casino games.
  • Hollywood Casino Online has teamed with IGT to be one of the first to the online casino market.
  • Parx Online Casino is partnering with GAN to bring online gaming including a variety of online blackjack games to the Commonwealth’s residents. They were the first to offer the game.
  • Harrah’s Casino is partnering with big brands like 888 and Scientific games which will help ensure their software and games are top-notch.
  • Mount Airy Casino is another 888 partner looking to offer online blackjack and casino games.
  • Valley Forge Casino will join with the likes of IGT and GAN to deliver a powerhouse of online blackjack, casino, and additional gaming entertainment in early 2019, too. These brands are leaders in game development and know-how to bring the best in online blackjack with style.

Types of blackjack

The game of blackjack has become so popular that hundreds of variations exist. Most of these are small changes to the basic game rules. For example, some blackjack games allow surrendering your hand, while others do not.

In Pennsylvania live casinos, the standard (US rules) game is available, usually with one of two different side bets.

Stadium (electronic console) blackjack is also available, which allows you to play against a virtual dealer sitting at electronic tables. Variations include Spanish 21 and (at Mohegan Sun) Interlock Blackjack.

Live blackjack rules in Pennsylvania

The PGCB ensures that live casinos have player-friendly rules for live blackjack games. With a return-to-player (for perfect play) percentage of just 96.6%, these rules are a world away from Vegas games.

The key to this low-house edge is the following:

  • Blackjack pays 3:2
  • Double down any cards plus double after split
  • Surrender available
  • Dealer stands on soft 17

There are plenty of side bets available at live blackjack tables. Keep in mind that the house edge for these is very high. If the jackpots get big enough, or maybe you enjoy the excitement of a possible windfall of money, then the following side bets are available:

  • Blazing 777s (progressive)
  • Lucky Ladies and Kings Bounty
  • Royal Match
  • Match the dealer
  • 21+3

Online blackjack variations

Online, casino sites must adhere to the same blackjack rules as brick and mortar casinos. There will be other variations though. The main distinction is between US and European blackjack.

  • In the US game, the dealer will “peek” at his or her hidden card when the up-card is a 10 or ace. If he or she has a blackjack, the hand will not continue (players with blackjacks will tie and everyone else loses).
  • In the European game, the dealer only gets one (visible) card. The second one is dealt once all the players have acted.

Live dealer blackjack is a popular alternative to the software-based format online.

It uses real dealers and a live video stream from a casino studio. Most games have seven seats, just like in a live casino. You drag and drop chips in order to bet, and press buttons to hit, stand, double, or split.

Live dealer games are hugely popular, adding a social element to online gambling.

There are many other blackjack formats that you can find at online casinos. Until all the PA brands are fully launched, we will not know exactly which games and side bets will be available.

Possible formats include:

  • Spanish 21
  • Blackjack Switch
  • Free Bet Blackjack
  • Pontoon
  • Blackjack Burn

Blackjack casino bonuses & rewards

With competition between online casinos for new players,  plenty of rewards and bonuses are available.

As well as smaller free bet bonuses, casinos will likely offer matched bonuses on your first deposit and plenty of promotions including reload bonus deals.

One important factor for blackjack fans is that the playthrough requirement for these bonuses is usually weighted. Since blackjack has a lower house edge (compared to online slots), you have to wager the bonus more times. Typical weightings are 10% of your bet count toward bonus clearance.

Good casinos (both live and online) will reward your play via a points collection system. Many casinos tie this system to their existing loyalty program.

For example, SugarHouse PA uses the Rush Rewards program, and Harrah’s uses Caesars Rewards. As you play, you’ll unlock bigger and better bonuses. At live casinos, this can translate into free play, resort credit or comp hotel nights.

While the rewards for blackjack are not as generous as for slots, we do recommend you sign up for loyalty programs whenever possible. If you don’t, you’ll be missing out on free money.

Odds on blackjack

To understand the game, it’s a good idea to take a look at why it is so popular among casino players. The biggest draw is blackjack is not just a game of chance, but also a game of skill.

Players calculate odds on the fly to determine their next move. These odds can change depending on the number of decks being used in the game. Each blackjack variation can use a different number of decks, so it’s important to be aware of this before sitting down to a game.

Here is a look at how the number of decks used will influence the house edge of a blackjack game:

1 deck: 0.17 percent
2 decks: 0.46 percent
4 decks: 0.60 percent
6 decks: 0.64 percent
8 decks: 0.65 percent

Pennsylvania laws and blackjack games

Table games were added to live casinos in an expansion of the 2004 Gaming Act in January 2010. This set the tax rate at 16% for table games, which is much lower for slots. Under the PGCB rules, blackjack needs to be player-friendly, with a low house edge.

There was a gap between online blackjack games becoming legal and the first online casinos opening.

Gov. Tom Wolf signed the Gambling Expansion bill, Act 271, in October 2017. This set up a licensing process for online casinos, and the first sites went live in mid-2019.

Pennsylvania blackjack tables near you

You’ll find blackjack at all live casinos in the Keystone State. The games follow the player-friendly rules specified by the PCGB. The key difference between casinos is which side bets are available. These range from bets with fixed odds to those with progressive jackpot prizes.

Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack – 777 Harrah’s Blvd., Chester, PA 19013

Harrah’s PA Casino claims to have the most extensive collection of table games in the Philly area. Run by casino giant Caesars, Harrah’s has regular (PA rules) blackjack games, Spanish 21 and Dynasty Stadium blackjack. Located on the riverbank at Chester, this huge casino offers progressive jackpots via side bets on many games. Blackjack fans can enjoy the Lucky Ladies progressive side bet.

Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course – 777 Hollywood Blvd., Grantville, PA 17026

There are two blackjack table games, and two side bets available at this casino-racetrack. Hollywood Casino offers regular blackjack with either the Lucky Ladies or 21+3 side bets. Also, you can play the cut-deck variation: Spanish 21. Based near Grantville, Hollywood is a huge casino. It offers slots, a sportsbook, racebook, and thoroughbred racetrack.

Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin – 4067 National Pike, Farmington, PA 15437

With only 27 table games, Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin is a smaller casino than many PA venues. It has Blazing 7s blackjack, a progressive side bet. At the time of writing, the top prize was nearly $16,000. In addition, you’ll find games with the 21+3 side bet. This resort is a perfect place to mix gaming and leisure. It has an 18-hole golf course and the biggest wine cellar in Pennsylvania.

Meadows Racetrack & Casino – 210 Racetrack Road, Washington, PA 15301

Located close to Pittsburgh, the Meadows Racetrack & Casino is a big casino with plenty on offer, including 67 table games. Blackjack has the popular Lucky Ladies side bet, and one called “inbet.” Blackjack is one of the games available at its prestigious high-limit room. Add plenty of dining options, nightlife and a harness racetrack, and you can see why The Meadows is popular.

Mohegan Sun Pocono – 1280 PA-315, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702

You’ll find a unique blackjack variation called Interlock Blackjack at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The dealer will identify his or her down-card as being small, medium or large before you act. There are also Blazing 777 side bets, 21+3 and Spanish 21. Electronic gaming terminals also let you enjoy blackjack without a dealer. Mohegan also offers plenty of slots and other table games.

Mount Airy Casino Resort – 312 Woodland Road, Mt. Pocono, PA 18344

Blackjack is available both on the regular casino floor and in the high-limit room at Mount Airy Casino. You can bet the “match the dealer” side bet and play two hands at once in some games. They also offer the popular Spanish 21 variant. Also, this casino provides you with the ability to enjoy blackjack in a nonsmoking environment.

Parx Casino and Racing – 2999 Street Road, Bensalem, PA 19020

With 199 casino tables, you’ll be hard-pressed to find more blackjack action than at Parx Casino and Racing. In addition, you can bet at electronic tables called “Fusion,” which allow bets on up to four live blackjack and roulette games at electronic terminals. Regular blackjack, along with a choice of side bets, is available in the high-limit room or on the casino floor.

Presque Isle Downs & Casino – 8199 Perry Highway, Erie, PA 16509

Located close to Lake Erie, Presque Isle Downs & Casino is a hybrid racetrack and casino. There are plenty of table games, including blackjack with the Blazing 777s side bet. This pays a progressive jackpot for three 7s of the same suit, with smaller prizes for other combinations of 7s. Unlike the other large PA live casinos, no Spanish 21 is at this venue.

Wind Creek Casino and Resort – 77 Wind Creek Blvd., Bethlehem, PA 18015

Formerly called Sands Bethlehem, Wind Creek is a big casino with a choice of more than 200 table games. Blackjack features many of them, with Free Bet Blackjack listed among the regular and high-limit games. Side bets offers include 21+3 Xtreme, which adds a touch of three-card poker in the form of a side bet. The Kings Bounty bet is also available.

Rivers Casino – 777 Casino Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

Pittsburgh’s popular Rivers Casino has 100 table games to choose from along with many more electronic gaming terminals. It has blackjack with the Blazing 777s side bet. This is linked to a progressive jackpot, which pays when a player gets three 7s of the same suit. While there are no blackjack variants at this venue, you can enjoy blackjack in the high-limit room.

SugarHouse Casino – 1001 N. Delaware Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19125

Philadelphia’s SugarHouse Casino, built on the site of a sugar refinery, has blackjack and Spanish 21 and a choice of two popular side bets. Blazing 777s is linked to a progressive jackpot, which is (independently) used by many live casinos in the Keystone State. The other bet is Lucky Ladies, which involves hitting suited queens for big (non-progressive) prizes. Some games also have match-the-dealer bets.

Valley Forge Casino – 1160 First Ave., King of Prussia, PA 19406

While not the biggest Pennsylvania casino, Valley Forge Casino offers some interesting table game variations at its Merrion Township location. These include Super 4 Blackjack, which has a progressive jackpot side bet, and the cut-deck game Spanish 21. You will also find games with the match the dealer side bets.

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