PA Online Sports Betting

Last updated April 17, 2019

Pennsylvania online sports betting is expected to launch sometime in Summer 2019 (and possibly as early as later this month). Seven casino companies in the state already offer legal retail sports betting and are only waiting on an enforcement decision about the Wire Act from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to proceed online.

The first sportsbooks to launch will be products from one of the following casinos:

  • Valley Forge Casino
  • Harrah’s Philadelphia
  • Rivers Casino
  • SugarHouse Casino
  • Presque Isle Downs Casino
  • Parx Casino
  • Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course

Of those seven properties, we expect that Valley Forge, Rivers, and SugarHouse will have the best apps. These properties have strategic partners who have had tremendous success elsewhere, particularly in neighboring New Jersey.

Most banking methods will be available on these online sportsbooks. Players will be able to use credit cards, prepaid cards, e-checks, electronic wallets, and other online payment services.

Current Status for April 2019

The waiting game for online sports betting continues, but we expect PA sports betting as early as May 2019. Certainly before online casino launch on July 15.

The DOJ threw the entire online gambling community into chaos in January 2019 when it declared that the 1961 Wire Act (which bans interstate gambling transmissions) affects all types of gambling. The Department of Justice has recently delayed issuing enforcement guidelines for its recent Wire Act opinion.

As a result, this reversal generated massive controversy and cries of corruption from multiple sources. Nevertheless, uncertainty about the ramifications of the opinion has had a chilling effect on Pennsylvania’s online gambling plans.

Which online sportsbook will launch first in PA?

It is, of course, impossible to know which online sportsbook will go live first in Pennsylvania. The only clues we have are the behaviors of the operators elsewhere and the ease of a software transfer to the Keystone State.

By that rationale, it seems most likely that a product from Hollywood Casino would come first. Penn National, Hollywood’s parent company, has debuted retail operations first in both Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Additionally, Penn National’s sports betting partner is William Hill, which, given its breadth of experience, should have no problems developing a Pennsylvania-specific app.

Rush Street Interactive, parent of both Rivers Casino and SugarHouse, is also in the running to be first to market. The company already operates an online sportsbook in New Jersey, so it understands the steps necessary to arrive at the table. Rush Street also has a strategic relationship with Kambi, the company responsible for some of the more innovative online sports betting products today.

Finally, Valley Forge Casino could surprise everyone and grab the gold medal. Valley Forge received its Pennsylvania Gaming Board (PGCB) approval on March 6 and had a working retail book less than a week later.

So, quick turnarounds might be a hallmark of the casino and its corporate owners, Boyd Gaming. Valley Forge has also retained FanDuel as its strategic sports betting partner, so it is unlikely that there will be software-related hurdles for the casino.

Which company will have the best app?

Like the question of first to launch, there is nothing set in stone about Pennsylvania sports betting apps. At this moment in time, no company has released any sort of test or beta version of its software, so we can only speculate based upon the companies’ activities elsewhere.

With that said, we can confidently declare that Valley Forge will offer a streamlined product with a host of innovative features. Valley Forge’s strategic partner, FanDuel, recently seized control of New Jersey’s online sports betting market (in terms of revenue).

The company appears to be quite hungry and looks to be growing by leaps and bounds. FanDuel’s New Jersey app offers a wide selection of options, including extensive in-game betting choices.

Similarly, the online sportsbooks from Rivers Casino and SugarHouse will likely be beautifully and expertly designed. As it happens, software partner Kambi powers many of the top online books in New Jersey, and is responsible for two rather innovative features on their apps.

First, players on Kambi software interact using a betting carousel. This feature creates a customized list of betting suggestions for each player based upon his or her stated preferences and historical wagering.

More importantly, Kambi also created the live ticket system, which allows players to cash out their open tickets at any time. In this way, players can guard against last-second defeats or meltdowns. They can even shorten parlays to be successful.

Parx Casino will also feature a Kambi-designed app. So, that app will likely be quite nice, too.

Banking on PA online sportsbooks

One of the more apprehensive parts of betting online is transferring money to the site. Due to the uncertainties involved, the process can be contentious and difficult.

Thankfully, there will likely be a host of options for players both to deposit and withdraw funds from their favorite online sportsbooks. Methods likely to appear on these sportsbooks include:

  • ACH (E-checks)
  • Credit/debit cards (Visa or MasterCard)
  • Prepaid cards (issued by each individual sportsbook)
  • PayPal
  • Skrill
  • PayNearMe (via 7-Eleven)
  • Cash at the corresponding land-based casino cage
  • Wire transfer

Bear in mind, each individual sportsbook may have more unique options as well.

PA sports betting licensees

At present, seven Pennsylvania casinos are eagerly awaiting word from the DOJ and, subsequently, the PGCB. Six of the seven already have retail sportsbooks in operation, and the seventh is planning a June 1 debut for its retail location. They are (with retail debut in parenthesis):

  • Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course (Nov. 17)
  • Rivers Casino (Dec. 15)
  • SugarHouse Casino (Dec. 15)
  • Parx Casino (Jan. 10)
  • Harrah’s Philadelphia (Jan. 24)
  • Valley Forge Casino (March 13)
  • Presque Isle Downs Casino (June 1 projection)

Additionally, Parx operates sportsbooks in two of its off-track betting facilities. So, there are six retail sportsbooks in retail casinos and sportsbooks at South Philadelphia Turf Club and Valley Forge Turf Club. Altogether, Pennsylvania is home to eight retail operations.

The potentials

However, the list of licensees above is not exhaustive. There are still several operators or casinos that have either not received their approvals to offer sports betting yet, or have not even applied.

Potential operators of sportsbook apps in Pennsylvania include:

  • Mount Airy Casino
    • Likely – application already submitted
  • Mohegan Sun Pocono
    • Likely – application already submitted
  • Stadium Park Casino
    • Unknown – no application submitted
  • Sands Bethlehem
    • Unknown – no application submitted, but under new ownership
  • Meadows Casino
    • Unlikely – no application submitted and sister casino (Hollywood Casino) already licensed
  • Lady Luck Nemacolin
    • Unlikely – no application submitted and sister casino (Presque Isle Downs) already licensed
  • MGM Resorts
    • Unlikely – would require PGCB rule change to apply
  • Golden Nugget
    • Unlikely – would require PGCB rule change to apply

Frequently Asked Questions

Is sports betting legal in Pennsylvania?

Yes. Pennsylvania passed a bill to legalize sports betting in 2017, and the bill became a law the PASPA was repealed in 2018.

Can I bet on sports right now in Pennsylvania?

Yes, at these casinos in the state: Valley Forge Casino, Harrah’s Philadelphia, Rivers Casino, SugarHouse Casino, Presque Isle Downs Casino, Parx Casino, Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.

Can I bet online legally in PA?

Not yet. Expect that to happen in Spring 2019.

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