With just a single retail sportsbook at Hollywood Casino, the Pennsylvania sports betting industry is in its infancy. But the state’s casinos aren’t sitting on their hands while they wait for Pennsylvania to sign off on their retail and online sportsbooks. They are keenly aware of the opportunities sports betting presents, both in the Keystone State and beyond.
Philadelphia-based SugarHouse Casino was one of the first sports betting operators in neighboring New Jersey. According to Fantini Research, two more Pennsylvania casinos are in line to launch online sportsbooks in New Jersey.
Fantini’s Matthew Waters confirmed Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, owner of Parx Casino, and Penn National Gaming, owner of Hollywood Casino and Meadows Racetrack & Casino, are prepping to open a retail sportsbook and launch online sportsbook skins in New Jersey by the end of the month.
The licenses will run through Freehold Raceway. Penn and Greenwood jointly own the New Jersey racetrack. Freehold is approved to offer sports betting in the state.
Sports betting will benefit Freehold, as well as the two PA casino companies, but in different ways.
Can sports betting save Freehold?
Freehold Raceway is the forgotten member of New Jersey’s racing triumvirate that comprises itself, Meadowlands, and Monmouth Park.
With horse racing in decline, the New Jersey racing industry is lobbying the state for a massive bailout. Of the three, Freehold is the property most in need.
In addition to the proposed subsidy, sports betting is another way tracks are hoping to buoy the industry.
Meadowlands and Monmouth are already reaping the rewards, and Penn National Vice President of Racing Chris McErlean called sports betting a great opportunity in December 2017:
“Certainly, given the state of the industry in New Jersey, any opportunities for increasing potential revenue and foot traffic within the building is a good thing. … This is an opportunity we’ve been restricted from up to this point and we would certainly welcome this opportunity that will help keep Freehold viable going into the future.”
Parx primed to be a major sports betting player in New Jersey
As the top revenue-generator in the Pennsylvania casino industry Parx isn’t struggling. But it still wants in on sports betting.
Parx partnered with sports betting operator Kambi earlier this year. When Parx and Kambi formally announced their partnership, the companies clearly signaled their interest in the New Jersey market:
“The contract … includes a provision for Kambi to support Greenwood Gaming with a potential sports betting operation in the neighbouring state of New Jersey.”
Parx will become Kambi’s fourth New Jersey sportsbook, joining:
- DraftKings Sportsbook
- SugarHouse Sportsbook
- 888 Sportsbook
An online sportsbook in New Jersey makes all the sense in the world for Parx Casino. With its eastern Pennsylvania location, a significant percentage of Parx Casino’s customers reside in New Jersey.
Parx will be able to better leverage its customer database by operating online sportsbooks in both states.
New Jersey is part of Penn’s national sports betting strategy
Penn National doesn’t have the same database as Parx. However, it could become a major player in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania if it can create a national sports betting brand.
Unlike the more regionally focused Greenwood Gaming, Penn National is a major player on the national level.
Penn’s sports betting partner, William Hill, has similar ambitions, and is already one of the leading sportsbook operators in the nascent US market.
William Hill currently operates two retail sportsbooks in New Jersey at Monmouth Park and Ocean Resort Casino. William Hill also operates an eponymously branded online platform in conjunction with Monmouth and ORC.
With more than 40 racetracks and casino properties in 20 states, Penn is trying to drive its online and sports betting branding forward wherever it can in order to compete with other nationally driven companies like MGM.
The end goal is to create a ubiquitous brand that’s synonymous with sports betting in every state.