Is My Bookie Now Legal?

The following is a list of sportsbooks operating legally in Pennsylvania:

RiversPittsburgh777 Casino Drive
SugarHousePhiladelphia1001 N. Delaware Dr
Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race CourseGrantville777 Hollywood Blvd.
ParxBensalem2999 Street Rd
South Philadelphia Turf ClubPhiladelphia700 Packer Ave
Harrah'sChester777 Harrah’s Blvd
FanDuel at Valley ForgeKing of Prussia1160 1st Ave

When the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board first set the sports betting tax rate at a whopping 36 percent, the conventional wisdom was that the illegal bookmaker would still get business. The thinking was that there wouldn’t be enough legal sportsbooks would be willing to pay the high rate —or the $10 million licensing fee — to cut into the black market business.

In comparison, Nevada sportsbooks pay just 6.5 percent in taxes, while in neighboring New Jersey, they pay an 8 percent tax on profits. The 36 percent that Pennsylvania set seemed entirely unreasonable, and many expected it to be an industry killer.

Well, that was then; this is now. As it turns out, there are more than enough legal sportsbooks shelling out the big bucks to open up shop in Pennsylvania, changing the demand for an underground bookie and ultimately affecting his bottom line. The bookie who remains illegal to this day.

Meet Mickey Two Toes

At the time the law passed, there was also a belief among illegal bookmakers that their business — the ease of placing multiple bets from your couch – wouldn’t be replaced by the new legal sportsbooks coming to Pennsylvania.

One such bookmaker (we’ll call them Mickey Two Toes because it sounds cool) told a reporter that college kids who want to place a $10 bet might visit a new legal sportsbook as a novelty, but his core group of customers will remain loyal.

Again, that was then; this is now. As each of these brick-and-mortar sportsbooks also adds online and mobile options in 2019 and offers a series of new sign-up incentives that involve bonus money and risk-free bets, the sports gambler looking to place multiple bets from the comfort of his living room couch can now do so legally.

How? By cashing in on new player incentives and getting instant electronic transfers of payoffs after wins — all with the safety and security of knowing that the new sportsbook they are using is regulated, guaranteed to pay its debts, and most importantly, legal.

The same can’t be said about that bookie who doesn’t own a website and has an unlisted phone number.

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