Pennsylvania is the seventh state to officially start accepting sports bets and the fourth state to launch online sports betting.
There are now 13 retail sportsbooks in Pennsylvania, including six in the Philadelphia sports betting market alone.
There are currently nine online sports betting sites to choose from in the state as well.
How PA bettors can deposit and cash out
A big part of getting your PA betting app account set up is getting it funded. There are several options for getting money on your account.
A popular option is credit cards. Most sites take Visa and Mastercards, but this comes with a caveat. There is a reasonable chance your credit card will get declined. These sites are entirely legal and regulated, but that does not mean banks and credit card companies won’t flag gambling transactions. Given the high decline rate, you might consider some of these other options:
- PayNearMe: This bill pay app generates a barcode on your phone for the account you wish to use. Then, you can take your phone to any number of stores, like 7-Eleven and CVS, to complete the transaction.
- ACH or e-check: ACH (Automated Clearing House) is a process where funds electronically move from your bank account to the online sportsbook. It is a common and popular deposit option for PA bettors.
- Prepaid cards: Most PA online sportsbooks offer Play+ prepaid cards to customers. This option allows users to buy a casino-branded card, then use that it to fund your account.
- Cash at the cage: Every online app gives users the option of going to the cage of the local casino affiliated with the app and funding their account there.
- PayPal or Neteller: These e-wallets are hugely convenient, but they are, unfortunately, not very prevalent in Pennsylvania. With high-tax rates and licensing fees, many PA books might not offer PayPal because of the hefty fees that come with transactions.
As for getting money off the site, those options are typically more limited. Often, customers will receive withdrawals through the same method they deposited. Another standard option that can often be time-consuming is to get a paper check in the mail.
Here is a look at which online apps offer which deposit options:
PA online sportsbook options
The online sportsbooks currently available in Pennsylvania are:
- FOX Bet
There are other PA casinos that are in the process of launching sports betting apps, including:
- Hollywood Casino
- Wind Creek
- Philly Live! Casino (not opening until December 2020)
PA betting apps launch history
The first PA online betting apps started rolling out in Spring 2019. PlaySugarHouse was the first app to debut in May 2019, followed by Parx the following month. BetRivers, which is a sister site of PlaySugarHouse that offers the same odds and offers, also went live in June 2019.
The early PA sports betting market lacked iPhone options, but when FanDuel rolled out in July 2019, it brought a new gold standard in terms of betting apps. Not only did it bring a single app that worked in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but it also offered the state’s first iPhone app option.
The start of football season brought the FOX Bet brand to Pennsylvania. Before 2019 was over, DraftKings, BetAmerica, and Unibet launched PA betting apps as well.
November 2018 marked the start of sports betting in the state, but just a year later, PA bettors now have a long list of betting apps to choose from on both iPhone and Android with even more on the way. In just the first year of sports betting operations in Pennsylvania has produced:
- Over $1.1 billion in wagers
- Almost $75 million in revenue for operators
- Over $26 million in tax revenue for the state
Why your iPhone can’t support some PA sports betting apps
When an update to Apple App Store guidelines rolled out on June 3, 2019, many casino companies, both in PA and across the nation, had reason to worry. The new guidelines gave real-money online casino apps until Sept 2019 to fully convert the app to the native iOS platform.
Thankfully, Pennsylvania casinos are already finding ways to solve the problem. SugarHouse was the first, teaming up with GeoComply for a solution to the app problem. With GeoComply’s GeoGuard download, both BetRivers and PlaySugarHouse are just a couple of button clicks and an app download away from browser access to the sites.
FanDuel and DraftKings, meanwhile, is taking advantage of its standalone app status without a casino to offer users the only iPhone app experience for sports betting in the state.
PA retail sports betting
Currently, 13 sportsbooks are operating in Pennsylvania, with a couple of more in the works.
Each of these properties only offers sports betting on the property. 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.
Major sports betting events
Every month, it seems, there is another big sporting event that draws a ton of betting action. The big events include:
PA does not accept wagers on non-sporting events
Keep in mind that Pennsylvania does not take bets on everything other states does. Most notably, in Pennsylvania, you cannot wager real money on events like the NFL Draft or the Academy Awards. These are not tied to a sporting event so that they will remain off-limits and unavailable to PA sports bettors.
PA sportsbooks will take your NJ college sports bets
While New Jersey sportsbooks may take your bets on Best Picture, they will not take action on any New Jersey college sports teams. Moreover, they will not book bets on any collegiate sporting events taking place within the Garden State.
That is not the case in Pennsylvania. Both PA retail sportsbooks and betting apps happily offer action on New Jersey teams like Rutgers, Seton Hall, and Fairleigh Dickinson. During March Madness betting, NJ bettors crossed state lines in order to bet on the latter two.
Additionally, the Pennsylvania colleges are open to betting action as well, even if it is in the state. For example, you can bet on every game in the Big East Tournament in Philadelphia. You can bet on any Villanova men’s basketball action you want as well.
Types of bets at PA sportsbooks
You can find thousands of bets on PA online betting apps. Retail sportsbooks do not offer the same number of options and promotions. Here is a look at some of the types of bets you can find at online sportsbooks:
- Early redemption bets
- Live betting
- Round robin bets
- Parlay bets
- Player props
- Point spreads
- Team props
- Totals (over/unders)
Live in-game betting on Pennsylvania betting apps
One option that online sportsbooks offer that retail sportsbooks can’t is live betting, aka in-game betting. Live betting is increasingly popular among bettors. What it essentially amounts to is that bettors can bet at various points during a live sporting event with odds that regularly update based on the action taking place.
Standard live betting options include point spreads, totals, and moneylines, just like a regular bet. However, there is also a whole range of betting markets specific to in-game betting. In baseball, you can bet on the result of the next at-bat. In football, you can bet on which team will get to a certain number of points first.
That is the fun of live betting. There is a multitude of options for bettors who want to experience the game and bet on it at the same time. In comparison to placing a single bet at the end of a sporting event.
Responsible gambling and PA sports betting
Noe that online gambling is up and running in Pennsylvania, there are new measures in place to enjoy betting responsibly. In addition to a PGCB-managed, land-based self-exclusion list, there is also an online gambling self-exclusion list for those who want to prevent themselves from gambling online.
In order to participate in either or both self-exclusion lists, you need to fill out some paperwork and present a photo ID. You can opt for one year, five years, or permanent inclusion on the lists. If you choose for one of the two shorter stints on the list, you will need to petition to remove yourself from the list once that time passes.
If self-exclusion is not the answer for you, online sportsbooks have several measures in place to help ensure you’re gaming responsibly. Those include:
- Notifications of how long you have been on the site.
- Tools to help limit your time on site, deposit amounts, and bet amounts.
- Prominent links to resources to help treat problem gambling.
If you think you may have a gambling problem and need support, these programs could help:
PA sports betting laws and regulations
The rules about bets are just a few of the finer nuances about Pennsylvania sports betting legislation. Let’s go over the primary elements as well.
- Each Category 1-3 casino is eligible for a sports betting license.
- The cost of a license is a one-time fee of $10 million.
- It allows online and retail wagering on sporting events across a range of sports, as approved by PGCB.
- Each licensee gets a single online sports betting skin.
- Each betting site needs to prominently feature the name of the casino operating the app or site.
- Licensees can open supplemental retail sportsbooks at off-track betting and PA satellite casino locations operated by the license holder.
- Both online and retail sports betting are taxed at 34% plus a 2% local share assessment (36% total).
Benefits of regulated PA online sports betting
You may be wondering why you should bother betting at a casino sportsbook or betting app instead of offshore sites or a local bookie.
The first reason is that if you use offshore sites or a bookie, you are effectively breaking the law.
More importantly, though, the greatest advantage of a regulated market are consumer protections. If an offshore site closes up and runs off with the money in your account, you have little to no recourse to get it back.
If something like that happened in PA (that would be highly unlikely), you can reach out to the PGCB and report them.
You can bet with the assurance that the PGCB is always keeping a close eye on PA sportsbooks to ensure they are following all the regulations.
History of PA sports betting
Hollywood Casino owner submitted paperwork on Aug 2018. During the same month, Parx submitted two applications. One was for the $10 million license for the casino to offer sports betting. The other was 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 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 December 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. 2018 Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) meeting.
Valley Forge submitted its application a month later. 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 when it applied, creating a scenario where there were more casinos offering sports betting than not. That number jumped to nine by March 2019 when both Mount Airy and Mohegan Sun Pocono applied to PGCB.
The online betting market officially got underway in June 2019, when SugarHouse went live.