It’s been exactly one year since the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of New Jersey in the case that legalized regulated sports betting. In an instant, Pennsylvania sports betting became legal.
Prior to the ruling, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was still in effect. This federal law restricted sports gambling within the US to only one state – Nevada.
The act was deemed unconstitutional by a vote of 6-to-3, officially leaving the individual states to decide the laws surrounding sports betting.
A lot has happened in the last 12 months around legalized gambling in the Keystone State. PA became the seventh state to accept sports wagers. Joining Pennsylvania, Nevada, and New Jersey are:
- West Virginia
- Rhode Island
PA now has eight total retail sportsbooks and online sports betting will likely be available sometime this month.
Let’s examine how the state of PA has grown in the legal gambling market over the last year and see where it’s going moving forward.
PA sports betting gets going
PA sports betting actually got its start before PASPA was found unconstitutional. Sports betting was written into the PA gambling expansion law ahead of the Supreme Court ruling. When PASPA was overturned, sports betting in PA was in a position to move forward without the need for more legislation.
Unfortunately for sports fans in PA, getting legal sports gambling off the ground took a little while. The majority of the attention after the PASPA ruling was focused on the state’s online lottery which was already underway thanks to the gambling expansion law.
While online lottery instant games were being introduced, sports betting was still in its very early stages. The PA Gaming Control Board (PGCB) started to get the paperwork together, including applications for casinos that wanted to offer sports wagers.
One issue the PGCB had was that they didn’t make a deadline for these applicants, so it seemed as though there wasn’t that much interest. This didn’t start to change until August 2018.
After the PGCB decided that each casino could only release one sportsbook apiece, a total of nine casinos submitted applications by the July 15 deadline in a separate move for interactive gaming. This had nothing to do with sports at the moment, but it was a step in the right direction overall for the state.
Parx Casino was the first to do so just two days before the window closed. It paid the $10 million fee for a license that would grant it the right to offer online slots, table games and poker to PA residents.
With legal betting starting to expand into the mobile world, it was just a matter of time before sports gambling took to the forefront.
Penn National steps up
Part of the delay had a lot to do with the $10 million license fee as well as the extremely high tax rate on sports betting implemented by PA legislators. Many of the casinos were waiting by to see if the rate of 34% would potentially be lowered.
Penn National, along with new sports betting partner William Hill, took the first leap to finally bring sportsbooks to PA. This wouldn’t happen quickly, though.
It took almost another two months before the PGCB conditionally approved PA’s first two sports betting licenses. In October, Hollywood and Parx Casino were the first permitted locations to launch sportsbooks.
One would have thought the tough part was over with and legal sports betting would be available immediately, but that wasn’t the case. Hollywood Casino actually had to delay the opening of its land-based sportsbook because of a lack of paperwork.
Apparently, William Hill’s submission of employee fingerprints was delayed, pushing back the debut of sports betting for another few weeks.
The sportsbook finally launched for testing on Nov. 15 and was a full go two days later. PA sports betting had created a new market 188 days after the PASPA was shut down.
PA sportsbooks expand
Obviously getting the first legal retail sportsbook released is a major deal, but the PA sports betting scene didn’t start to flourish until the next wave of openings.
In mid-December, Rush Street Interactive helped bring two additional sportsbooks to the state. More important than the number of books was their location.
When SugarHouse Sportsbook and Rivers Sportsbook opened for business in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh respectively, the betting market started to take shape.
After just a few weeks of accepting wagers, it was clear that the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh sports betting markets were going to carry the PA market. With so many more people and plenty of major sports franchises located here, it all made sense.
Parx Casino struggled to satisfy all of the PGCB’s gaming conditions, but it eventually got its sportsbook going in early January. Besides its casino, Parx also launched sports betting at its off-track location, the South Philadelphia Turf Club.
This brought the total number of sportsbooks to five, with three of them in Philadelphia.
PA sports betting today
Currently, there are eight retail sportsbooks open in PA accepting legal sports bets. They include:
- Hollywood Sportsbook
- Harrah’s Philadelphia Sportsbook
- SugarHouse Sportsbook
- Rivers Sportsbook
- Parx Sportsbook
- FanDuel Sportsbook at Valley Forge Casino
- South Philadelphia Turf Club
- Valley Forge Turf Club
Three additional locations are in the beginning stages of bringing more sportsbooks to PA, too. Sports betting will soon be available at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Mount Airy and Presque Isle Downs.
PA online sportsbooks are just around the corner as well. It’s been reported that several of them will launch as early as this month. If PA bettors are lucky, it may even happen in the next week or so.
Since both SugarHouse and Rivers Casino’s betting operator, the Kambi Group, have apps running in NJ, they’re the favorites to release the first available PA online sportsbook.
Here is a list of the other online sports betting apps that will likely go live in PA:
- FanDuel Sportsbook
- William Hill Sportsbook
- Caesars Sportsbook
- Parx Sportsbook
- FOX Bet Sportsbook