Turns out Hollywood Sportsbook will beat Thanksgiving after all. And in doing so, it will become the first Pennsylvania property to begin offering sports betting.
UPDATE: Over the course of Thursday, the official launch of the first sportsbook in Pennsylvania changed a few different times. What initially sounded like a Monday launch after a couple of testing days is now coming even sooner.
The first official bets on sports in the Keystone State will come on Saturday afternoon, per a Tweet from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB):
PA Gaming expansion continues. Hollywood Casino at Penn National along with the PGCB conducting sports wagering testing on Fri 11/16 from 2:00 pm to midnight. Public invited to place live wagers. At close of testing, PN plans Saturday 11/17 official opening at 11:00 am.
— PGCB (@PAGamingControl) November 16, 2018
However, if you want to see things in action tomorrow, Friday will be a day of testing if you want to play guinea pig and place a live wager or two.
Penn National Gaming, which owns the Grantville casino, reportedly announced plans to begin two live-money test days, starting Thursday afternoon. Once approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), Hollywood Casino will have clearance to open its PA sports betting operations.
“It all materialized in a matter of hours (or was it days) thanks to the diligence of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board,” said Fred Lipkin, the vice president of marketing for Hollywood Casino. “Of course we are in the middle of a snowstorm, so turnout won’t be good until the weekend.”
More details on Hollywood’s sportsbook
These test days effectively serve as the final steps before Hollywood Sportsbook goes live. During this time, the property’s staff and equipment will go under the microscope to ensure state compliance.
Once approved, the sportsbook expects to open 11 a.m. on Monday, kicking off regular operating hours of 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to midnight over the weekends.
The casino’s sportsbook, operated by bookmaker William Hill US, will reside in its existing simulcast theater on the second floor of the property.
“Penn National is excited to be the first casino to offer sports wagering in Pennsylvania,” said Penn National CEO Timothy Wilmott. “The enthusiasm around sports betting has been growing since the federal ban was repealed in May, and we look forward to providing our patrons with another great amenity to enjoy at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.”
Quick change of plans after hiccup
Earlier this week, Lipkin said that the casino’s expected delays because PGCB had not received all of the regulatory paperwork.
The worst-case scenario, Lipkin said, was the sportsbook going “a few weeks” before going live.
However, he added:
“Something could change tonight. Maybe a carrier pigeon brings them. I don’t know. Anything could happen. But that’s where we are as of 1:10 this afternoon Eastern Standard Time.”
It appears “something” indeed changed, virtually overnight.
As Hollywood general manager Dan Ihm, the credit goes to the PGCB, which “moved heaven and earth to get us to this point.”