Pennsylvania Sports Betting & PA Online Betting App Launches
Pennsylvania is the seventh state to officially start accepting sports bets and the fourth state to launch online sports betting.
There are now eight retail sportsbooks in Pennsylvania, including six in the Philadelphia sports betting market alone. There are also three PA online betting apps as well, with more expected to roll out in time for football betting season.
PA online sports betting finally underway
After months of waiting and endless delays, there are finally online betting apps in Pennsylvania.
SugarHouse Sportsbook was the first Pennsylvania online sportsbook launching on May 31, 2019.
Next to go live was Parx Sportsbook on June 24, followed by Bet Rivers one day later on June 25. Both are in the testing phase but are eligible to open up fully live operations on June 27.
Unlike the PA online casino sites, the rollout of the apps is not simultaneous. Instead, operators can launch whenever each is ready to submit to PGCB and get testing underway. The hope is that by football season there will be at least five or six apps for bettors to choose from.
Unfortunately, it looks like, at least for now, that there will not be an easy solution for iPhone users. Apple app store is cracking down on app submissions. As a result, most regulated US apps are having trouble getting listed. So far, no PA apps have a successful iOS/iPhone solution.
Those problems got even worse when an update to Apple app store guidelines rolled out on June 3. The new guideline gives 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 HTML 5, the conversion process is difficult. It will likely take a year for casino apps to fully convert.
With that in mind, expect sportsbooks and online casino apps to be standalone on the iPhone platform, as it is easier to get a sportsbook app compliant than an online casino.
That means apps are launching with a desktop version and an Android app. The Google Play Store does not accept gambling apps, but Droid users can download the app directly from SugarHouse’s website.
The hope is in the near future, iPhone users will be able to access the descktop version via browser to circumvent the lack of availability in the app store.
PA online sportsbooks launch
|Casino||Online Sportsbook||Retail Sportsbook|
|PlaySugarHouse Sportsbook PA||Live as of May 31, 2019||Dec. 15|
|Parx Casino Sportsbook||Soft launch June 24||Jan. 10|
|BetRivers||Soft launch June 25||Dec. 15|
|FanDuel at Valley Forge Casino||Summer 2019||March 13|
|Harrah's Philadelphia||Summer 2019||Jan. 24|
|Hollywood Casino at Penn National||Summer 2019||Nov. 17|
|Presque Isle Downs||Summer 2019||Summer 2019|
|Mohegan Sun Pocono||2019||Fall 2019|
|Mount Airy/Fox Bet||2019||By football season 2019|
Both the Stadium Casino project and the new owners of Sands Bethlehem, Wind Creek, indicate that sports betting is part of their future plans. That leaves only The Meadows and Lady Luck Nemacolin without sports betting plans.
The Meadows is a Penn National property, so it can always just promote the Hollywood Casino’s sports betting offerings. Similarly, Nemacolin Woods is managed by Churchill Downs, which is offering sports betting through Presque Isle Downs.
List of PA sports betting apps
Powered by Kambi, the SugarHouse sports betting app beat everyone to market when it debuted on May 28 for three days of PGCB-supervised testing.
PA residents can now wager on all of the popular American sports, as well a number of overseas sports like cricket and cycling. The app is relatively similar to the SugarHouse product in New Jersey, but the initial offering does seem to not allow anyone to redeem promo offers. Additionally, there is no iOS version as of yet and extremely limited deposit options.
Much like its sister property SugarHouse, Rivers sports betting app is also powered by Kambi. Customers can expect the iRush Rewards program, which is already available on PlaySugarHouse.com.
However, users should be aware that BetRivers and PlaySugarHouse are different entities, which means separate accounts, separate downloads, and segregated funds.
Rivers began a two-day testing period on June 25 and is eligible to fully launch on June 27.
Valley Forge and FanDuel
Viewed as one of the top online sportsbooks in New Jersey, expectations are extremely high for FanDuel and its partnership with Valley Forge. The app is expected to be connected with the casinos existing Valley Club promotional program. FanDuel is known for the ability to place numerous bets on a single game, something PA residents can look forward to.
While not much is known about the upcoming Harrah’s sports betting app, they have partnered with Scientific Games for all sports betting operations. In New Jersey, Scientific Games is currently running Caesars Entertainment’s three Atlantic City casinos so customers can expect something similar.
Another operator powered by Kambi, the Parx sports betting app looks and feels different from the PlaySugarHouse and BetRivers products.
If you’ve interacted with the Parx Betslip Builder or kiosks at all, the interface of the app will feel very familiar, as the functionality is largely identical.
Parx was second to market, beginning live testing of its online app on June 24. It is eligible for full online rollout and PGCB approval on June 27.
Hollywood has partnered with William Hill for all sports betting operations. PA residents can expect something similar to the app in New Jersey which offers multiple betting options such as, straight bets, Futures, and numerous proposition bets.
Presque Isle Downs
Having partnered with Churchill Downs, the Presque sports betting app will rely on the BetAmerica software and brand. Presque must first establish its retail sportsbook before it can introduce an online/mobile wagering.
Mount Airy and BetStars
One of the most difficult sports betting apps to pin down is Mount Airy, mainly because Mount Airy has yet to submit an application to the PGCB. The company has partnered with The Stars Group for all sports betting operations once approval is granted.
Mohegan Sun Pocono
Mohegan has partnered with Kindred for its sports betting app. Much like Mount Airy and Presque, a retail sportsbook must be up and running before online wagering can begin.
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.
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
- The Oaks (formerly 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 not in the mix. 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, but recently said its sports betting plans will not go live until late summer.
As March wrapped up, two new casinos submitted sports betting applications as well. Mount Airy, who partnered with The Stars Group, and Mohegan Sun Pocono, who is working with Kindred. Mohegan got its conditional approval at the May PGCB meeting.
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.
Major sports betting events
It seems like every month or so 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
- Baseball World Series
- NBA Finals
- Stanley Cup Playoffs
- The Masters
- College Football Playoffs
The benefits of betting in a regulated market
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 biggest advantage of a regulated market are consumer protections. If an offshore sites 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 (which would be highly unlikely), you can reach out to the PGCB and report them.
You can also bet with the assurance that PGCB is always keeping a close eye on these sportsbooks to ensure they are following all the regulations and running an operation that is on the up and up.
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.
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 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.
No. It only allows for regulated sports betting at licensed casinos or on licensed casino apps. Things like offshore sportsbooks and neighborhood bookies are still as illegal now as they were before the gambling law passed and the Supreme Court ruled on the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
Most online betting apps will require pretty standard information like:
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 old.
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.
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 on. For example, there will never be things like Oscars betting, election betting, or betting on events like the NFL and NBA Drafts. 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 larger.
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.
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.
PA online betting apps
In New Jersey, mobile betting accounts for 80% of wagers. The state also takes in 8-10 times the amount of bets each month that PA retail sportsbooks do.
Once the first online betting app rolls out, expect monthly handle to skyrocket. With several apps expected to be on the market by football season, the amount the apps take in will dwarf their brick and mortar counterparts.
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 should 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 the top two performers in the retail sports betting market so far.
FanDuel Sportsbook at Valley Forge
Most people think of FanDuel as a daily fantasy sports site. That is, unles you live in New Jersey. For the past year or so, the Garden State has become very familiar with the brand as one of the state’s top sportsbooks. The brand, which works with The Meadowlands, is dominating in the Garden State.
You can expect the same for PA. FanDuel will leverage its partnership with Valley Forge Casino. Meanwhile, the other NJ heavy hitter, DraftKings, is still lacking a land-based partner.
If FanDuel can bring the same mix of great promos and a wide variety of bets to the Keystone State, it might become one of the national leaders on the US sports betting scene.
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.
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.
By football, there will hopefully be 4-6 app options for PA bettors to choose from.