Pennsylvania is a hotbed for college sports.
From the Villanova University Wildcats men’s basketball team to the Penn State Nittany Lions football squad there are more than 60 NCAA Division I teams in the state.
Now, thanks to the launch of sports betting in PA, just about anyone over 21 and inside state lines can bet on a variety of college sports. Of course, that includes everything from Villanova basketball and March Madness to Penn State football and the College Football Playoff National Championship.
NJ college betting restrictions
The neighboring state of New Jersey imposes specific restrictions on college sports betting. NJ sports betting regulations don’t allow bets on games that involve New Jersey schools. Nor can they take bets on any college games held in New Jersey, no matter which teams are involved.
However, Pennsylvania does not impose the same restrictions. Whether it is a PA school or a game taking place in PA, Pennsylvania sportsbooks post odds on every major college game from just about every sport on the board. Once again, just about anyone over 21 and inside state lines can bet on them.
Fears that sports betting will make college athletes vulnerable to game fixing, point-shaving, and the criminal organizations running such scams are eased by the fact they were likely even more susceptible when sports betting was illegal and happening anyway.
College betting in PA above board
Now betting is all above board and in the light instead of underground and in the darkness.
Government regulators and legitimately licensed operators are there to raise the red flag when something doesn’t look right. Not only are consumers and operators better protected in a regulated sports betting environment, but the athletes and the teams they’re betting on are as well.
The truth is the carve-out for local schools in New Jersey was instituted long before the federal ban on sports betting was lifted in May 2018. It was born out of compromise and an effort to get local schools on board with legal sports betting.
NJ lawmakers have been quick to say it’s not an indictment of the integrity of local college sports. Nor is it a requirement for keeping corruption out of the local college sports scene.
PA State Rep. Rob Matzie drafted Pennsylvania’s original sports-betting bill and never gave the inclusion of such restrictions a second thought.
He is quick to admit college sports is big business. PA sports betting on college sports is the natural evolution of that. Rep. Matzie said trying to play puritan now would be hypocritical.
Student-athlete betting ban
Of course, PA sports gambling laws and regulations prevent student athletes from betting on games. That ban includes anyone associated with a team, or anyone holding inside information from betting on games.
Plus, NCAA rules dictate that student-athletes cannot bet on any sport where there’s an NCAA championship, even at a legal sportsbook. Even Daily Fantasy Sports is out for NCAA student-athletes.
A question of responsibility
In the lead up to the legislature passing a PA sports betting bill, big state schools including Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh argued against allowing bets on college sports in PA.
Pitt Athletic Director Heather Lyke claimed specifically that sports betting would have a negative effect on the integrity of college athletics and the health, safety, and welfare of Pitt’s students.
Both schools were among those who proposed the state charge operators an integrity fee. The idea was such fees could help offset the increased costs schools expected to incur in upholding the integrity of sports and teaching student-athletes right from wrong when it comes to sports betting.
Penn State president Eric Barron even went as far as asking for a two-year moratorium on college sports betting to study the ramifications first.
Lawmakers rejected both ideas. It was felt the $10 million licensing fee and 36% tax was burden enough for PA sportsbooks. Plus, there really is no increase in cost to the schools, since upholding the integrity of their sports and teaching students was already their job.
Barron took it even further. He said that a lack of financial compensation for student-athletes creates an opportunity for inappropriate influence by outsiders.
However, the state ultimately determined that this issue is a school’s responsibility as well. In other words, if Penn State thinks its student-athletes are susceptible to corruption because they don’t get paid, it should lobby the NCAA for the right to pay them.
Know this about PA college betting
Therefore, all you really need to know about betting on college sports in PA is that it’s completely legal and regulated. For now, bettors must head to one of PA’s brick-and-mortar sportsbooks:
- Hollywood Casino
- Harrah’s Philadelphia
- SugarHouse Casino
- Rivers Casino
- Parx Casino
- FanDuel Sports Book at Valley Forge Casino
- South Philadelphia Turf Club
- Valley Forge Turf Club
As long as you’re not a college athlete or affiliated with a college team in any way, and you’re over 21, and inside state lines, you can feel free to do it.
College sports betting is above board in PA whether the local schools you’re betting on like it or not.