Pennsylvania is the seventh state to officially start accepting sports bets and the fourth state to launch online sports betting.
There are now nine retail sportsbooks in Pennsylvania, including six in the Philadelphia sports betting market alone.
There are currently four online sports betting app as well. Expect upwards of half a dozen by the time football gets underway.
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 launch
PlaySugarHouse PA first mobile app to launch
After months of waiting and endless delays, there is finally an online betting app in Pennsylvania, too.
PlaySugarHouse.com Pennsylvania is the first Pennsylvania online sportsbook. It officially launched on May 31, 2019.
Unlike the PA online casino sites, the rollout of the apps will not be simultaneous. Instead, operators can launch whenever each is ready to submit to PGCB and get testing underway.
Parx Sportsbook second to market
Nearly a month after the SugarHouse launch, Parx began testing on its online sportsbook. After a successful test period, Parx went fully live on June 27. The app is very similar to the Betslip Builder that Parx offered at the retail sportsbook launch. Its functionality also features some excellent game cast-like rendering of events with live, in-game betting.
BetRivers joins sister site in June
Another app, BetRivers, went fully live on June 27. The BetRivers app is a near-exact version of PlaySugarHouse.com PA, but the apps are entirely different entities. That means separate accounts, separate promos, and separate deposit bonuses.
FanDuel brings Pennyslvania’s first iPhone betting app
The fourth PA betting app hit the market on July 2, and debuted with quite a splash. FanDuel didn’t launch a separate PA betting app from its New Jersey app. Rather, it integrated everything for Pennsylvania into the existing app. The result is an app iPhone users can download from the Apple App Store. Also, a user experience that allows you to transition back and forth between PA and NJ on a single account with no problems, so long as you geolocate.
Why your iPhone can’t support some PA sports betting apps
When an update to Apple App Store guidelines rolled out on June 3, many casino companies, both in PA and across the nation, had reason to worry. The new guidelines give real-money online casino apps until Sept. 3 to fully convert the app to the native iOS platform.
Given that most online gambling apps are coded in HTML5, the conversion process is complicated. It will likely take a year for casino apps to convert to iOS fully. Nearly about every online casino slot and table game title use HTML5.
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, 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.
Live! Hotel & Casino, The Meadows/DraftKings latest to apply
There are now 11 PA casinos that have applied to offer sports betting in the state. The latest to file applications are the Meadows and the still unopened Live! Hotel & Casino project.
What makes the Meadows’ application such a big deal is that the Penn National property is partnering with DraftKings, bringing one of the biggest NJ operators to Pennsylvania. There are some regulatory hoops to jump through before the DraftKings online product can launch in the state. However, the big takeaway is it finally has a path to get there.
Frequently asked questions about PA sports betting
Do I have to live in Pennsylvania to bet?
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.
How old do you have to be to bet?
Bettors must be at least 21 years old.
Why are some casinos slow to sign up?
Other casino groups might be waiting to see how others fare before entering the market.
In May, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (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 nine casinos pursuing sports betting compared to just four (one of which is under construction), who have not.
Are there other options for regulated sports betting? New Jersey
Pennsylvania online sports betting is just getting started, but New Jersey sports betting is already well underway.
The first sportsbook to open in the Garden State was Monmouth Park 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 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 was the first of the betting apps to launch, taking bets as of 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 21 years and older, 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.
How big will the market be for Pennsylvania sports betting?
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 about how much illegal sportsbooks occurs — both domestically and offshore — those are only guesses.
Here’s what we do know. Nevada does more than $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 with 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 around $1 billion 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 5% for sportsbooks, Pennsylvania casinos stand to generate upwards of $50 million to $75 million in revenue, possibly reaching nine figures.
Did the law make all sports betting in PA legal?
No. It only allows for regulated sports betting at licensed casinos or on licensed casino apps. Offshore sportsbooks and neighborhood bookies are still as illegal as they were before the US Supreme Court ruled on the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
What do I need to sign up for a betting app?
Most online betting apps will require pretty standard information like:
- Date of birth
What you will also need to provide is the last few digits of your Social Security number. The reason sportsbooks ask for this is to ensure you are at least 21 years or older.
The good news is that you can sign up for all of the apps from the comfort of your couch. Unlike Nevada, you don’t need to go to the actual physical sportsbook to get up and running.
How come the app I downloaded doesn't offer the same stuff as the NJ version?
There are a couple of reasons why you will notice differences across the two states.
The first is purely regulatory. PGCB is much more restrictive about what people can bet. For example, there will never be things like Oscars betting, election betting, or betting on events like the NFL and NBA Draft. PA sportsbook can only offer action on things directly tied to a sporting event.
New Jersey does not have this restriction, so the number and scope of bets they offer are inevitably more significant.
The other difference is that New Jersey has a little more to work with when it comes to marketing budgets. Pennsylvania has the nation’s highest sports betting tax rate at 34%. New Jersey’s is less than half that. That makes it easier for New Jersey to profit and infuse money back into marketing and promos.
Who regulates sports betting in the state?
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% tax on gross gaming revenue from sports. Additionally, there is a 0.25% fee on handle and a 2% tax that serves as a local revenue share.
PA retail sports betting
Currently, nine 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.
Two sportsbooks have conditional approval from the PGCB and have not launched a retail operation yet:
- Mount Airy: The focus is on its online Fox Bet product. First, Mount Airy will open a sportsbook and poker room with PokerStars branding in time for football season.
- Mohegan Sun Pocono: This sportsbook could be slowed down by a demand from PGCB to incorporate the racebook into sports betting plans.
There are currently two sportsbook applicants who need to present their PA betting plans to PGCB:
- The Meadows: The deal with DraftKings was only announced on July 31, which means there are some licensing hoops to jump through before DraftKings comes to PA.
- Live! Hotel & Casino: The property doesn’t open for another year, but the impending casino is getting a headstart on sports betting.
Can an online sportsbook launch without a retail sportsbook?
The short answer is no.
Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) took a much more cautious approach to sports betting than New Jersey regulators. Despite requests from PA casinos and sportsbook license holders, PGCB refused to greenlight any simultaneous launches of online and retail betting. Every PA sportsbook needed to successfully launch its retail sportsbook before it could even begin to entertain PA real-money online wagering.
The only simultaneous launches that took place in PA were for retail sportsbook under the same operator. Both BetRivers 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.
While SugarHouse and BetRivers did launch retail at the same time, the same is not true for an online product. Expect the BetRivers product to look a lot like SugarHouse’s online sportsbook, but it is still not up and running like its sister site.
Taking that break is part of the reason PA online gambling launch is taking. The Wire Act news had everyone playing it very safe as well. 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.
However, with no threat of prosecution in 2019, that should speed some timelines back up.
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:
- Super Bowl
- March Madness
- Kentucky Derby
- Triple Crown
- World Series
- NBA Finals
- Stanley Cup Playoffs
- The Masters
- College football playoffs
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. 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 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. 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.
The online betting market unofficially got underway on May 28 when SugarHouse began its online app testing. The plan is for PGCB to approve betting apps on a rolling basis whenever a new operator is ready to launch. As of July 29, there are four online betting apps up and running with more in the works in time for football season.
Meanwhile, all of the retail sportsbook applicants are conditionally approved. The hope is they will all open in time for football.