As with everything else in the 21st century, if you once needed to go somewhere to do an activity — a date, a movie, concert, etc. — there is technology that also allows you to do so at home.
Sports betting is no different.
Leading the wave of legalized sports betting in Pennsylvania is the opening of sportsbooks across the state. Much like being in a physical bookstore, there’s something special about going to a counter, handling a betting slip and watching the action unfold alongside other bettors.
But as much as we love the bookstore, it’s nice to be able to buy a book online. And as much as we like going to the sportsbook and standing underneath the big board of odds, thanks to online and mobile gaming, it’s great to be able to put money down a game without leaving your couch.
That is the beauty of the sports betting app. If you hold an account with SugarHouse, for example, you now no longer need to visit the brick-and-mortar casino to place a bet. Just fire up the app on your mobile phone. All of the wagering opportunities that you prefer will also be available in the palm of your hand.
Best Sports Betting Apps in Pennsylvania
Is online betting legal in Pennsylvania?
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is responsible for licensing all PA sports betting apps. The following apps either are or will soon be available to players located in Pennsylvania:
- SugarHouse Sportsbook
- BetRivers Online Sportsbook
- FanDuel Online Sportsbook
- Fox Bet Online Sportsbook
- Parx Casino Online Sportsbook
- Harrah’s Philadelphia Online Sportsbook
- Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course Sportsbook
- Presque Isle Downs Online Sportsbook
SugarHouse online sportsbook was the first book to debut in Pennsylvania. In fact, its launch on May 31 gave the new sportsbook a de facto monopoly in the state for almost a full month.
In that time, SugarHouse managed to establish itself as the go-to spot for sports bettors in the Keystone State. Few other operators make their customers feel as welcome onsite.
For one thing, SugarHouse has one of the most extensive selections of betting lines available in PA. Bettors will find dozens of options for wagering on every contest offered.
This breadth of betting lines is due, in part, to the extensive in-game betting options that SugarHouse hosts. Once the game begins, SugarHouse lights up with opportunity after opportunity to cash in on the ebb and flow of the contest.
Also, SugarHouse is one of the only sportsbooks where bettors earn rewards for their loyalty to the site. All players can enroll in the iRush Rewards program, which awards prizes and perks to players who earn points on their activity.
Excellent promotional opportunities are on SugarHouse as well. Not only are the bonuses generous, but the site also keeps the playthrough requirements low, thus making it easier to clear the money into one’s wallet.
Speaking of which, SugarHouse is a fully integrated site with its online casino. The two sites share domain space and player wallets. So, it’s a snap to move back and forth if a bettor wants to kill time while waiting for his or her sports bets to play out.
All of this integration is tied into a website that is smooth and sleek in design. The Kambi creation is fast and easy to navigate.
Best of all, everyone is welcome. Android and browser players can access the site easily. Apple customers need only download GeoGuard Location Validator to confirm that they are inside Pennsylvania state lines.
After that, the browser version of the site is available to folks with iOS. So, with all these benefits, players should have no hesitation about visiting SugarHouse Sportsbook online.
FanDuel online sportsbook offers one of the smoothest apps on the market. The company’s app in Pennsylvania highlights that they aren’t just hosting daily fantasy sports (DFS) tournaments anymore.
In fact, the sheer speed and fluidity with which the program operates is quite astounding.
FanDuel is also available for both iOS and Android users. There are apps for both operating systems, although Android users will have to download the app from the site.
One notable aspect of the FanDuel mobile app is that it makes extensive use of tabs to operate.
Eschewing the typical logjam of information onto a small screen, FanDuel makes it a snap to move from choosing a sport, a bet and confirming a bet slip submission in a matter of seconds.
Of course, none of that speed would matter if FanDuel didn’t also have a ton of betting options; however, the site is full of them.
Each contest has loads of individual betting choices. It’s not uncommon to see dozens of betting lines on the same match.
Many of these lines don’t show up until after the match begins, however. In other words, there is a deep, in-game betting system on FanDuel online.
The speed of the software is vitally important to this kind of system because of its time sensitivity. So, it’s a good thing that FanDuel moves so quickly.
FanDuel also has one of the best promotional games of any app in Pennsylvania. Always multiple spiffs are running at any one time.
Notably, FanDuel will select one match each day and boost the odds on it. So, favorites will suddenly have fewer points needed to beat the spread, and underdogs will have more points allowed to cover still. Needless to say, odds boost opportunities are usually good bets.
So, even though FanDuel is a relatively new player in the sports betting world, the company seems to be making a lot of smart moves. Surely, debuting in Pennsylvania has to be one of them.
Visitors to BetRivers online sportsbook could find themselves beset with a case of deja vu. The eagle-eyed bettor might notice that the app shares an uncanny similarity with the SugarHouse online sportsbook.
Thankfully, there’s a perfectly legitimate reason for this resemblance. Namely, both apps are owned and operated by the same company. As such, they were designed by the same provider, too.
So, every feature present on SugarHouse is available on BetRivers. Except for their branding, there’s no difference between the two.
That’s terrific news, then, because that means there are two opportunities to make use of the excellent options described above.
BetRivers offers the same level of diversity when it comes to betting lines that SugarHouse does. The app bolsters its offerings with a wide selection of in-game betting options for every match.
Players on BetRivers can also take part in iRush Rewards, the loyalty program. The points earned are redeemable for free play, food offers, and exclusive promotions and sweepstakes.
The only downside to playing on BetRivers is that there is no integration with an online casino, and no shared wallet between them. BetRivers does not maintain an online casino, and cannot mingle the SugarHbouse casino onto their product.
However, this one ding on the resume should not detract from the fact that BetRivers is a great option for placing a bet on sports. BetRivers is an excellent place for serious bettors who want to have a great deal of flexibility on their mobile app.
The Parx online sportsbook is, of course, the online sports betting offer from one of Pennsylvania’s largest casinos. The site debuted in June, the same day as BetRivers.
One of the first things that interested bettors might notice is that this app is available through the Apple App Store. Parx is one of the few sportsbooks to navigate successfully through compliance issues with Apple.
Players will find that the resulting app is a sleek and cool affair. Parx chose to use various hues of blue to present its various options.
The Kambi-designed app makes extensive use of banners and quick links on its home screen. The links connect players to the most relevant sporting events of the day; naturally, the ones that are in season fit this description. Meanwhile, Parx keeps patrons informed about promos and boosts.
Interestingly, one of the biggest success stories of the site’s design is its search function. Customers can easily find whatever sport or bet they want to make in hardly any time at all.
Parx also features a tremendous selection of live betting options. These go beyond the obvious choices for sports. The options are both varied and granular.
Parx’s XClub loyalty program will yield perks like free play (on slots), beverages and priority window access at Parx itself.
In short, Parx has a lot to offer. It’s worth a look.
The first thing that Pennsylvania players might notice about the DraftKings online sportsbook is that it doesn’t exist just yet. However, if the app ends up being a mirror of the New Jersey version, PA bettors are in for quite the experience.
DraftKings will likely be a radically different offering than anything currently in operation. Players will see the change from the first moment they log in.
That realization will happen because of the DraftKings betting carousel. With this feature, no two bettors on the DraftKings online sportsbook ever have the same experience.
The betting carousel is a dynamic rotating wheel that presents each player with suggestions for wagering. These suggestions are based upon the player’s specified preferences, his or her betting history and any other information that DraftKings can glean from the customer.
So, unless they’re trying something new, players will not have any difficulty finding bets that interest them. In a way, it’ll be as if they have a sports betting concierge serving them.
DraftKings also features a live ticket system that changes the proposition of sports betting significantly. With this option, players can cash out their tickets at any point during the contest.
As a result, bettors don’t have to sweat the idea that a late collapse may doom their bet. Instead, they can pocket some winnings and move forward with their lives.
This system also extends to parlay wagers. So, a player who has hit all of his or her legs save one or two can simply end the bet early, rather than worry about everything crashing because of a late-stage loser.
Naturally, DraftKings will also bring all the typical in-game betting options and clean format that other sportsbooks have. However, the coming of DraftKings to Pennsylvania is certainly cause for excitement.
What is the difference between browser-based betting and betting apps?
The spread of mobile devices across the world has created a bit of a challenge for website developers. Gone are the days of accessing a site’s services exclusively through a browser.
Website creators work diligently to minimize the differences between formats. However, it is inescapable that there will be some elements that only work on mobile apps and vice versa.
The main difference between browser-based betting is that mobile apps are specifically designed for their devices. Every aspect of the app will be both present and functional because the code for the app will be native to that device.
In other words, devices that use the iOS platform (Apple) use apps that were written to be the iOS version of that app. In fact, for gambling apps, Apple’s insistence that the coding is native to iOS has caused a tremendous headache for developers.
Similarly, Android platform users will access apps that are coded to be for Android devices. Android has shown a similar, albeit unique distaste for gambling apps.
On the one hand, Google has banned gambling apps from appearing in the Google Play store. However, unlike Apple, developers are still permitted to write and distribute apps on their independent sites.
Because apps are designed for the devices that they’re on, developers can use the full spectrum of interactive capabilities that the devices possess. For instance, features that require a touchscreen and haptic technology are all available in the app developer’s toolset.
Sportsbook apps on mobile can also make use of interface advantages that browsers can’t offer. The DraftKings betting carousel, for instance, relies on the way that most users address their devices in order to function.
Browser-based apps, on the other hand, take a one-size-fits-all approach to their design. So, players using the browser version could find themselves missing out on some cool design features or functionalities.
In theory, an app could have some approximation of the betting carousel. But, it would not have the dynamism or the sleek graphical aspects of the mobile version.
In addition, browser-based apps have the challenge of cramming themselves, sometimes uncomfortably, into a mobile device’s screen space. Some apps have more programming to optimize them for mobile device viewing, but the experience is never going to be as smooth as a dedicated app.
On the other hand, the one-size-fits-all approach means that the browser-based app is accessible by the entirety of its customer base. Furthermore, it is accessible no matter what medium each customer decides to use.
In short, the browser version has a level of universality that the mobile app cannot match. For a meat-and-potatoes approach to technology, it is a far more cost-effective medium.
Of course, more people are using their devices to access websites these days. In fact, according to a study by Perficient, 58% of all website visits in 2018 occurred via a mobile device.
For this reason, it seems likely that a greater number of new sportsbook apps will originate on mobile in the coming years. So, it remains to be seen how long browser versions are a must-have for developers.
Downloading a betting app on your Android device
Google does not permit Android users to download gambling apps from the Google Play store. Instead, Android users must pursue apps differently.
To get the app, Android users need to find their casino’s .apk file. They must download this file onto their phones.
Finding the file can be a bit of a challenge at times. In Pennsylvania, all sites thankfully allow download to Androids directly from the browser site.
Once downloaded, Android users need to tell their phones to allow installations from other sources. This command is located in the security menu in the phone’s settings.
Downloading a betting app on your iPhone
For a time, it seemed iPhone users were going to have the last laugh about gambling apps on their devices. After all, Google had banned Android phones from downloading them out of the Google Play store for years.
Then, in June, the App Store changed its policies, and nobody was laughing anymore. The new language in the store’s terms of service made it clear that all gambling apps had to be written in code native to the iOS platform.
This change was (and is) a big problem for gaming developers. The vast majority of gambling apps are coded using HTML5, rather than iOS’s preferred language.
Worse, Apple gave developers a scant three months to make a change. The company also made it impossible for users to work around the issue by accessing the sites through the Apple browser (Safari).
Sportsbooks have also run into an issue where their “app” was simply a wrapped version of their browser version. So, instead of using that dynamism common to apps, the books had merely put a bow on their browser sites to try and fit most devices.
Parx Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook players can proceed directly to the App Store to download their apps. There will be a location verification aspect to the software, but everything will work just like any other app.
Meanwhile, the two Rush Street apps (SugarHouse and BetRivers) have had to find an alternative solution while they sort things out with Apple. That solution comes in the form of a different app: the GeoGuard Location Validator.
This app, a product of geolocation developer GeoComply, will allow Apple users to certify that they are in Pennsylvania proper. Once they’ve done so, Apple will allow them to access these sites in their browsers.
Placing wagers through a sports betting app
If you are new to the sports betting app, getting started is simple.
Go to the app store that corresponds to your mobile device’s operating system – Android or iOS – and then download the sports betting app that works in Pennsylvania.
If you already wager regularly at a physical sportsbook, there should be an accompanying app — or there will be soon.
Next, register an account, add a little money and take a look at the games menu. You’ll see up-to-the-minute point spreads and odds and a place to fill out a bet slip. Straight bets, parlays, teasers, and even future bets are all available to play on the app.
The one advantage of the app that you won’t find at the sportsbook is the ability to make in-play wagers. Those are bets placed on games that have already begun, with continually changing point spreads and a multitude of available second-chance wagers.
Upon winning your bet, the money is put into your account instantly. Therefore, you can wager it again right away.
Withdrawals from your account also happen directly from the app, and if you make your deposit with an electronic transfer, withdrawings will happen the same way.
Apps connect to the operator’s online sportsbook, so you can use either its website or mobile app to place wagers from your home or from a single account. Many of the same bonuses and rewards programs that are available in-person are also integrated into the app.