Meadows, Sands, Stadium, Lady Luck

The Four PA Casinos Skipping Out On Sports Betting

The Pennsylvania sports betting market is growing fast. As of April 2019, there are eight retail sportsbooks operational in the Commonwealth.

Six of them are at licensed PA casinos and two are currently operating out of off-track betting parlors.

Another licensed PA casino, Presque Isle Downs has conditional approval to open a sportsbook. The casino plans to launch on June 1.

Both Mount Airy Casino and Mohegan Sun Pocono also submitted sports betting applications at the end of March 2019. These properties both have plans to open up shop pending Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) approval sometime in 2019.

The Pennsylvania sports betting market

Here is a look all relevant information regarding the launch of the various sports betting operations across PA:

CasinoPGCB Approval DateRetail Sportsbook LaunchOnline Sportsbook Launch
Hollywood CasinoOct. 3Nov. 17May or June
Parx Casino SportsbookOct. 3Jan. 10May or June
South Philadelphia Turf ClubOct. 3Jan. 17N/A
Rivers CasinoOct. 31Dec. 15May or June
SugarHouse CasinoOct. 31Dec. 15May 28 (Testing)
Harrah's PhiladelphiaOct. 31Jan. 24May or June
Valley Forge CasinoDec. 19March 13May or June
Presque Isle DownsFeb. 6Launching June 1Summer 2019
Valley Forge Turf ClubMarch 6March 12N/A
Mount Airy CasinoPending approvalN/AN/A
Mohegan Sun PoconoPending approvalN/AN/A

That leaves four PA casino licensees — Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin, Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, The Meadows Racetrack & Casino, and Live! Hotel and Casino Philadelphia — out of the sports betting business for now.

These four PA casino license holders can still apply for a $10 million sports betting license at any time. The process is an open one, with no set due dates to submit the paperwork.

In the meantime, here’s a look at all four properties as well as the best-known reasons why they’re taking a pass on sports betting for now:

Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin

Churchill Downs took over operations at Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin in Farmington from Eldorado Resorts as part of its purchase of Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie last year.

It appears that for now the Louisville, Kentucky-based horse racing and casino company is focused on the launch of sports betting and online gambling at Presque Isle instead.

The plan remains to launch a Presque Isle Downs sportsbook on June 1 and leave Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin where it lays. It is a move that saves Churchill Downs the additional $10 million licensing fee opening a sportsbook at Lady Luck would cost it.

Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem

Owner Las Vegas Sands Corporation signed a deal to sell Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians’ Wind Creek Hospitality for $1.3 billion in 2018. The transaction won’t close until sometime in 2019.

One condition of the sale is that Las Vegas Sands apply for a PA online gambling license on Wind Creek’s behalf. PGCB approved the application in October 2018. The approval came despite Wind Creek presenting no concrete plans for online gambling. Moreover, Sands said it will have nothing to do with it if the sale falls through.

Apparently making Sands to apply for a sports betting license isn’t a part of the deal. Neither side has said a word about the possibility of sports betting coming to the property.

The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

Right now, Greater Pittsburgh’s The Meadows Racetrack & Casino is staying on the sidelines of the PA sports betting market.

Penn National Gaming owns both The Meadows and Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville, where it launched the state’s first legal sportsbook back in November 2018.

Penn National Gaming seems focused on working with partner William Hill on getting the Hollywood Sportsbook’s retail and online operations up and running for now. However, it might not be able to ignore the potential of the Pittsburgh sports betting market forever.

Live! Hotel and Casino Philadelphia

Stadium Casino was originally branded Live! Hotel and Casino Philadelphia and may have moved back under that name with a recent change in ownership. Either way, the $600 million casino, hotel, and entertainment complex slated to open in South Philadelphia’s Stadium District in the year 2020 is still under development.

Now the sole owner, Cordish Companies is in the middle of demolishing the Holiday Inn at 900 Packer Ave. where it plans to ultimately build the project.

The proposed site sits in close proximity to:

  • Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles
  • Wells Fargo Center, home of the Philadelphia Flyers and Philadelphia 76ers
  • Citizens Bank Park, home to the Philadelphia Phillies

The owners say it will be the first comprehensive gaming, resort, entertainment, and sports destination in the United States.

That means it will likely include another Philadelphia sportsbook. It is just that the owners haven’t announced concrete plans for one just yet. They have not applied for a sports betting license and paid the $10 million fee.