Learn more about Pennsylvania’s land-based casinos with our in-depth reviews below. Get the latest news about PA gambling here.
List of Pennsylvania casinos
There are currently 12 casino gambling properties in the state of Pennsylvania, with another casino in the works in Philadelphia’s Stadium Park.
According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), this includes 10 stand-alone and racetrack casinos and two smaller resort casinos. The former group are Category 1 and 2 casinos, while the latter falls into Category 3. These gaming establishments employ approximately 18,000 people and generate close to $1.4 billion in tax revenue annually.
Click on any of the casinos below to learn more about that property.
- Harrah’s Philadelphia
- Hollywood Casino
- Meadows Casino
- Mohegan Sun Pocono
- Mount Airy Casino Resort
- Nemacolin Woodlands Resort
- Parx Casino
- Presque Isle Downs
- Rivers Casino
- Sands Casino
- SugarHouse Casino
- Valley Forge Resort Casino
Mini casinos: The next phase of Pennsylvania casino development
As part of its gambling expansion law passed in October 2017, there are now ten Category 4 licenses available. These licenses allow for mini casinos with 300-750 slots. A supplemental license costing $2.5 million allows these satellite casino properties to offer up to 30 table games as well.
The process for the issuance of mini casino licensing involves a series of auctions. The preliminary auctions began in January 2018 and are limited only to the licensed Category 1 and 2 casinos. The first license went to Penn National, who spent $50.1 million to secure a location 50 miles south of its existing Hollywood Casino.
Once there are no more bidders from the pool of those casinos, there will be supplemental auctions open to the Category 3 properties. At that point the Category 1 and 2 casinos who already successfully bid on a mini casino become eligible to bid again.
If that auction runs out of bidders and there are licenses remaining, entities outside of the state are allowed to apply for bids. PGCB will review those applications, then any suitable bidders will be allowed to bid with the casinos on the remaining licenses.
Check out our dedicated mini casino tracking page to see which towns are getting satellite properties and how much each casino ponied up to get them.
Overview of Pennsylvania’s casino industry
The Pennsylvania casino industry is relatively young. Casinos only became legal in 2004. Yet, in the dozen or so years in existence, the industry quickly became a powerhouse. Now it is the second-largest commercial casino industry in the country, trailing only Nevada.
Thanks to steep tax rates, Pennsylvania casinos actually generate more tax revenue for the state than Nevada does. That number will get even bigger thanks to the gambling expansion law passed in the fall of 2017.
Here is a look at the history of the Pennsylvania casino industry, starting with the latest news and moving back towards the casino industry’s more humble beginnings:
Online casinos become a reality
After a summer of bickering, the state legislature drafted a new version of the gambling expansion package, which both the House and Senate passed. Gov. Tom Wolf signed it into law on Monday, Oct. 30. The new law allows for a wide range of new gambling ventures, including:
- Online casinos
- Online poker
- Video gambling terminals (VGTs)
- Daily fantasy sports (DFS)
- Satellite casinos
- Potential for sports betting in the future
It also offered a new class of license eliminating the amenity fee in place at Valley Forge and Lady Luck Nemacolin. Valley Forge paid the fee immediately after the bill became law.
This white paper gives you an idea of the scope of the new gambling policies and what kind of revenue it should generate going forward.
Legislation which would legalize and regulate online gambling in Pennsylvania, and offer online gaming licenses to the state’s 12 casino properties first, was passed by the Senate. In June 2017 it was amended and passed by the House, sending it back to the Senate.
Pennsylvania casinos open their doors
Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin opened in July 2013.
Valley Forge Casino Resort opened its doors in March 2012 becoming the first Category 3 licensed casino in Pennsylvania.
After several ownership changes and failed financing plans with no construction to date, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board voted to revoke the Foxwoods Casino Philadelphia gaming license.
SugarHouse Casino opened its first phase in Philadelphia in September 2010.
Pennsylvania passed a law authorizing table game operations at the state’s licensed racino, casino, and resort casino properties.
The law also clarified the size and scope of gaming and other operations at the state’s three different categories of gaming licensees, including:
- Allowing up to 250 table games and 5,000 slot machines at Category 1 racino facilities
- Allowing 250 table games and 5,000 slot machines at Category 2 stand-alone casinos. These properties were also authorized to operate amenities including restaurants, spas, and entertainment options, but not hotels.
- Allowing up to 600 slot machines and 50 table games at Category 3 resort casinos. These gaming facilities can include attached hotels.
Parx Casino standalone gaming facility opened its doors in December 2009.
Rivers Casino opened in Pittsburgh, PA’s Chateau neighborhood along the Ohio River.
Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem opened on the Bethlehem Works development site in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in May 2009. Table games were added in July 2010.
Hollywood Casino opened at Penn National racetrack in February 2008. Table games were added in July 2010.
Mount Airy Casino Resort officially opened in the Poconos in November 2007, becoming the first Pennsylvania casino with lodging.
The Meadows Casino began as a temporary casino adjacent to the racetrack in Washington County, PA in June 2007. The permanent casino opened in 2009.
Presque Isle Downs casino and horse racing track near Erie, Pennsylvania opened in February 2007.
A slots parlor began operation at Harrah’s Philadelphia racetrack on the Chester waterfront. Table games went live at the property in 2010.
Parx Casino opened as a temporary gaming facility at the former Philadelphia Park racetrack in December 2006.
Foxwoods Casino Philadelphia is granted one of five stand-alone casino licenses for a soon-to-be-built property located along the Delaware River in South Philadelphia. The project fell apart, resulting in PGCB revoking the license in 2010.
Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs became the state’s first slot parlor after opening its doors in November 2006 at a harness track near Wilkes-Barre.
Lawmakers make Pennsylvania casinos a reality
State lawmakers made a number of amendments to horse track security bill authorizing both the use of 61,000 slot machines at racetracks and other new casino locations across Pennsylvania. Lawmakers rushed the bill through the House and Senate over the Fourth of July weekend, then quickly became law before any real opposition to casino gambling had a chance to oppose it.
The bill ultimately authorized the issue of three separate categories of slot machine licenses. These included:
- Category 1 for existing racetracks.
- Category 2 for designated tourist areas, including two in Philadelphia and one in Pittsburgh.
- Category 3 for resorts.
Former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell runs for Pennsylvania Governor. He wins on a campaign that includes support for the idea of allowing slot machines at racetracks in an effort to lower property taxes.
East Coast gambling flourishing, but PA not a part of it
Under Then-Governor Tom Ridge the State Legislature came close to legalizing riverboat casinos. The state’s anti-gambling movement began to grow and Gov. Ridge said he would veto any gambling bill not approved by referendum. Eventually the entire idea was scrapped.
A statewide survey found 48 percent of Pennsylvania residents supported legalized riverboat gambling and just 38 percent were opposed. However, Then-Governor Robert P. Casey claimed to be opposed to gambling and threatened to veto any gambling legislation passed in the state.
First developed under Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode, and championed by mayoral successor Ed Rendell, a proposal to allow riverboat gambling in Philadelphia made it to the state legislature. The claim was it would create $25 million in new revenue for the city and 11,500 new jobs. However, the House of Representatives voted against it in November by a margin of 118-81.
May 26, 1978
Resorts Casino Hotel opened in Atlantic City, New Jersey, becoming the first legal casino in Atlantic City. Resorts and the rest of the Atlantic City Boardwalk is within 60 miles of Philadelphia. It quickly become evident that Pennsylvania residents are some of the budding Atlantic City casino industry’s best customers.