Pennsylvania Sports Betting & PA Online Betting App Launches
Pennsylvania is the seventh state to officially start accepting sports bets.
There are now eight retail sportsbooks in Pennsylvania, including six in the Philadelphia sports betting market alone.
PA online sports betting launching in April or May
There are no PA online betting apps as of yet, but that will be changing in just a couple of weeks. Delays related to the new DOJ Wire Act slowed things down. However, the PA Gaming Control Board said on April 17 that they plan to begin testing on an online app in a matter of 2-3 weeks. After that, expect a rolling schedule of launches throughout May and June.
Unlike the PA online casino sites, the rollout of the apps will not be simultaneous.
Plenty of folks point to New Jersey sports betting, where retail and online sports betting were much more fluid. For example, DraftKings Sportsbook launched its mobile betting app before it even opened a retail sportsbook. The brick and mortar book did not come to fruition until Nov. 20.
Timetable for PA online betting launch
|Casino||PGCB Approval Date||Retail Sportsbook||Projected Online Sportsbook|
|Parx Casino Sportsbook||Oct. 3||Jan. 10||May 2019|
|SugarHouse Casino||Oct. 31||Dec. 15||May 2019|
|Rivers Casino||Oct. 31||Dec. 15||May-June 2019|
|Valley Forge Casino||Dec. 19||March 13||May-June 2019|
|Hollywood Casino at Penn National||Oct. 3||Nov. 17||May-June 2019|
|Harrah's Philadelphia||Oct. 31||Jan. 24||May-June 2019|
|Presque Isle Downs||Feb. 6||June 1||May-June 2019|
|South Philadelphia Turf Club||Oct. 3||Jan. 17||N/A|
|Valley Forge Turf Club||March 6||March 12||N/A|
|Mount Airy Casino||Pending approval||N/A||N/A|
|Mohegan Sun Pocono||Pending approval||N/A||N/A|
PA sportsbooks must launch retail before a betting app
Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) took a much more cautious approach to sports betting. Despite requests from PA casinos and sportsbook license holders, PGCB refused to greenlight any simultaneous launches. Every PA sportsbook needed to successfully launch its retail sportsbook before it could even begin to entertain online betting.
The only simultaneous launches that took place in PA were for retail sportsbook under the same operator. Both Rivers Sportsbook and SugarHouse Sportsbook launched on Dec. 15. However, Parx was unable to launch in tandem with the first of its two off-track betting parlors, South Philadelphia Turf Club. Even that needed a pause in between, per PBCG.
Taking that break is part of the reason PA online gambling launch is so delayed. The Wire Act news had everyone playing it very safe. PGCB required casinos to submit written plans for how they will be in compliance with the possible new ruling. That involved things like relocating servers and ensuring every transaction was intrastate.
This means that Presque Isle, Mount Airy, and Mohegan Sun Pocono will need to launch a brick and mortar sportsbook before catching up with the competition. That is unless PGCB has a change of heart.
Last update: April 17, 2019
Current PA sports betting locations
There are currently eight sportsbooks operating in Pennsylvania. These are:
- Hollywood Casino
- SugarHouse Casino
- Rivers Casino
- Parx Casino
- South Philadelphia Turf Club
- Harrah’s Philadelphia
- Valley Forge Turf Club
- FanDuel Sportsbook at Valley Forge Casino
Each of these properties only offers sports betting on the property. If you’re looking to bet online, PA betting apps are still a few months away. However, these casinos have things like betting kiosks to help you avoid waiting in a long line to bet.
The properties all offer a wide range of betting options on a large number of sports. If you want to brush up on what kinds of bets are available, check out our beginner’s guide to betting.
Presque Isle Downs is conditionally approved as of Feb. 6. It is a couple of months behind Valley Forge but could open in March or April if it can meet PGCB conditions quickly.
Here is the info on when the books are launching, when to expect mobile, who opted in for a sports betting license, and who is still sitting on the sidelines.
Frequently asked questions about PA sports betting
No. Anyone who is inside state lines can bet at the retail sportsbooks or on an online betting app. However, you must be within state lines to place that bet.
Bettors must be at least 21 years old.
Other casino groups might be waiting to see how others fare before entering the market.
In May the PGCB released temporary regulations after interested parties ranging from the leagues to the casinos wrote letters offering input and suggestions. They issued another set of regulations on Aug. 15, 2018.
It took a while, but now there are now nine casinos pursuing sports betting compared to just four (one of which is under construction), who have not.
While Pennsylvania struggles to drum up applicants, New Jersey sports betting is already well underway.
The first sportsbook to open in the Garden State was Monmouth Park back in June of 2018. The horse racing facility partnered with longtime sports betting provider William Hill.
Since then, 12 more brick and mortar sportsbooks launched in the state. Most are located in Atlantic City, but Monmouth Park and The Meadowlands are outside of the gambling city. So far, The Meadowlands is the leader in the brick and mortar market.
There are plenty of other players in the NJ sports betting game though. Pennsylvanians need only cross the state line to take advantage of one of the eight following mobile sports betting options:
- DraftKings Sportsbook
- FanDuel Sportsbook
- SugarHouse Online Sportsbook & Casino
- William Hill
- 888 Sportsbook
- Caesars Casino
DraftKings Sportsbook was the first of the betting apps to launch, taking bets starting Aug. 1, 2018. In the month leading up to football season, the rest joined the market.
You’ll notice one distinctly Pennsylvanian name on this list too. SugarHouse Casino is in Philadelphia, but it has been part of the NJ online gambling scene for a couple of years. The casino launched a real-money online casino in New Jersey in 2016. When it debuted its sportsbook app on Aug. 23, 2018, it was the first in the state to combine the sportsbook and casino into a single interface.
Anyone over the age of 21 and located in the state of New Jersey can wager on these online betting apps. Moreover, unlike Nevada, New Jersey does not require customers to set up an account in person. So, all a PA bettor needs to do is pop over to NJ, open an online account, and take advantage of the action.
Getting a read on the size of the sports betting market in Pennsylvania is difficult, given several factors.
First, outside of Nevada, legal sports betting didn’t really exist in the US. And while there are estimates out there about how much is wagered at illegal sportsbooks — both domestically and offshore — those are just guesses.
Here’s what we do know. Nevada does just over $11 billion in gaming revenue each year. While gaming win on sports betting can vary from year to year, in 2016, total handle (amount of money wagered at sportsbooks) clocked in at $4.5 billion.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania checks in at about $3.2 billion of total gaming revenue. If there were a direct correlation between total gaming win and sports betting, then we would expect to see somewhere on the order of $1 to $1.5 billion in handle in a fully mature PA sports betting market.
However, there are reasons to think the Pennsylvania sports betting market could be even bigger than that. The aforementioned interest in pro sports makes the market primed for even more wagering as a percentage of gaming dollars in the state.
Assuming a hold of somewhere north of five percent for sportsbooks, Pennsylvania casinos stand to generate upwards of $50 to $75 million in revenue, possibly reaching nine figures.
The PGCB oversees sports betting in the Keystone State. Both racetracks and casinos can accept wagers. There will be both in-casino wagering as well as mobile wagering.
In order to accept bets, casinos need to apply for a $10 million sports betting license. In addition to this hefty fee, there are also some hefty taxes to go along with it.
There is a 34 percent tax on gross gaming revenue from sports. Additionally, there is a .25 percent fee on handle and a two percent tax that serves as a local revenue share.
Who will the major players be in the PA sports betting market?
There are many casinos in Pennsylvania. And undoubtedly all of them will want to offer sports betting. But some markets/casinos will be better set up to succeed at sports betting than others.
SugarHouse and Rivers Casinos
Rush Street Gaming refused to sit around and wait for PA to launch online casinos and sports betting. Instead, the company launched the PlaySugarHouse brand in New Jersey. First, it was an online casino, then an online sportsbook followed in 2018. Both SugarHouse Casino and Rivers Casino in PA will benefit from the head start, especially when it comes to mobile betting. As for retail, the casinos are both conveniently located in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, respectively, and are poised to be popular places to watch the local pro teams and wager.
Daily fantasy sports brands
Don’t think Pennsylvania will be any different than New Jersey. Daily fantasy sports sites are dominating in the Garden State, and you can expect the same for PA. FanDuel will be up and running shortly through its partnership with Valley Forge Casino. DraftKings is still lacking a land-based partner, but we would not expect that to be the situation in the coming months.
South Philadelphia Turf Club
Let’s be clear, online betting is going to determine the market leaders in PA sports betting. However, it is worth noting that there is one retail sportsbook with a significant edge over the rest of the retail market.
South Philadelphia Turf Club is literally situated in the parking lots for Lincoln Financial Field and Citizens Bank Park. Additionally, it is just a mile away from Wells Fargo Center. With a location walking distance from every major Philadelphia sports team, this OTB is arguably in better shape than any other retail sportsbook in the state.
History of Pennsylvania sports betting
Hollywood Casino owner submitted paperwork on Aug. 17. On Aug. 24, Parx submitted two applications. One is for the $10 million license for the casino to offer sports betting. The other is a petition for the South Philadelphia Turf Club to take wagers on sports as well. Both the South Philadelphia Turf Club and the Valley Forge Turf Club will offer sports betting. The South Philadelphia location should begin testing the week of Jan. 14.
The secondary application does not feature another fee. If approved, the off-track betting parlor in Philadelphia could take wagers. It would be huge for the company, given that the Turf Club is located in the Stadium District next to the arenas for all major Philadelphia sports.
Stadium Casino will also be in that area of town. However, that property is not scheduled to open until 2020.
Nearly a month after Parx, Harrah’s Philadelphia submitted its application. Later that week, SugarHouse Casino threw its hat into the ring as well, as did its sister property in Pittsburgh, Rivers Casino. All three received their approval to launch at the Oct. 31 Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) meeting.
Valley Forge submitted its application on Nov. 14. The casino has a partnership with FanDuel Sportsbook, which already has paperwork in to be a PA sports betting operator.
Presque Isle Downs was another casino that wanted to get into sports betting, but had not submitted paperwork. That changed on Dec. 7 when it applied, creating a scenario where there were more casinos offering sports betting than not. That number jumped to nine on March 29 when both Mount Airy and Mohegan Sun Pocono applied to PGCB.