Penn National Unsure If Mobile Will Be Part Of Its Sports Betting Plans

Written By Jessica Welman on October 2, 2018
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The official hearing for PA sports betting applicants is not until Wednesday, but we already know a little about Hollywood Casino’s sports betting plans. Representatives from Hollywood’s parent company, Penn National, met with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) on Tuesday for their ten-year casino license renewal.

As part of the proceedings, Penn National gave some info about their plans for wagering. They believe, pending approval tomorrow, they can launch the on-property book in a “couple of months.”

What will not be available in a couple of months is mobile sports betting. In fact, Hollywood Casino’s Vice President and General Manager Dan Ihm implied mobile betting is not even a given for the company.

Ihm spoke briefly about online betting, saying only that they “may offer it” at a later date. Keep in mind Penn National has a partnership with William Hill, which already has an app up and running in Nevada and New Jersey. Additionally, it is one of the leading mobile bettors in Europe.

With Hollywood’s location, mobile seems essential

Unlike the other PA sports betting applicants, Hollywood Casino is not located near a major city. In fact, it is the only casino in the central Pennsylvania area. Its secluded location was cause for concern when mini-casino auctions began. The company said the casino was being unfairly targeted because its buffer area was smaller than any other casino. The company filed suit but eventually dropped the case. Instead, Penn invested in not one but two satellite casino properties.

Given the Grantville location, no mobile betting would severely limit the customer base for Hollywood. Unlike Parx Casino, Penn’s application is only for the casino, not for any of its off-track betting parlor. Without mobile or off-track sports betting, it will certainly be difficult to sustain with such a steep tax rate,

It is entirely possible the company is playing its cards close to the vest and have plans for mobile in the works. As mentioned, the William Hill partnership is one that only really makes sense if William Hill can launch an app at some point.

What is working in Penn National’s favor is the one-month head start over the field. Only Penn and Parx are presenting betting plans to PGCB tomorrow. It will be another month before the other three applicants will get that chance.

What do we know about the Hollywood Casino sportsbook?

Ihm did give some details about physical sportsbook plans. As expected, the book will share space with the simulcast racing area on the second floor of the casino. The 5,000 square-foot space will feature:

  • Six betting windows
  • One 110″ TV
  • Over 50 55″ TVs

Most of the applicants for sports betting already have horse betting, which speeds up the process of building a book. Nonetheless, even with an existing racebook, the timetable is still a couple of months before the casino actually takes a bet.

There may be additional details on Penn’s plans tomorrow at the sports betting application hearing. However, it seems unlikely we are going to hear anything about Hollywood Casino mobile wagering.

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Jessica Welman

Jessica Welman has been a key voice in the legal betting industry since the repeal of PASPA in 2018. She contributed to and formerly managed several Catena Play-branded sites including PlayPennsylvania, PlayTenn and PlayIndiana. A longtime poker media presence, Jess has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and served as the managing editor for

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