Pennsylvania is quickly becoming a frontier for gambling in the U.S. The state passed sports betting legislation in late 2017 as part of an omnibus bill that included other forms of gambling like online poker and daily fantasy sports (DFS).
Single-game sports betting was long deemed illegal in the U.S. outside of Nevada under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). However, after the ban was challenged in the US Supreme Court, the court ruled in favor of New Jersey, thereby allowing Pennsylvania and every other state to move forward with their own sports betting regulations if they so choose.
Pennsylvania sports betting status
Pennsylvania was already ahead of the curve in that regard, having legalized sports gambling in October 2017. A gamble by state officials could pay off by the end of 2018 with Pennsylvania potentially joining Delaware and New Jersey as states offering legalized sports betting in the mold of Nevada.
The same bill also allows for online casinos and poker via any of the state’s 12 casinos. The casinos can apply for a $10 million license to run those games and begin construction on live sportsbooks, and many began doing so in May 2018 following the SCOTUS decision.
The state will also tax casinos for their sportsbooks at a rate of 34 percent, budgeting an expected $200 million in annual revenue with the potential for over $1 billion annually once this budding industry matures.
However, the tax rate is even higher for online slot machines (54%), creating some potential concerns for the companies that run these casinos.
That could drive more traffic towards live sports betting at the state’s casinos. There are currently 12 brick-and-mortar casinos in Pennsylvania with “Philly Live!” under construction. This new casino could serve as the natural hub for live sports betting since it’s located within Philadelphia’s Stadium District.
While live sports betting may be available first, online gaming could be a huge draw in Pennsylvania, perhaps even eclipsing the revenue generated by neighboring New Jersey.
Professional sports leagues have a significant stake in the product with seven teams in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas. The NFL and MLB are lobbying for “integrity fees” to be written into the state’s pre-existing sports betting laws, but have not had much success thus far.
By allowing residents to bet on collegiate programs, the casinos could be at odds with the NCAA eventually as well, but officials from Penn State and others are saying that for now, they’re watching closely as legislators establish regulations for sports betting.
Sports Betting FAQ
When will sports betting be legal in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania passed a law legalizing sports gambling that immediately went into effect on May 14 when the SCOTUS overturned PASPA. Casinos in the state have already begun applying for licenses to run sports books and the industry could be up and running by the end of 2018.
Where can I place sports bets in Pennsylvania?
As soon as the state’s 12 casinos are able to construct official sportsbooks, there will be plenty of opportunities to place live bets on sporting events. Online wagering will also become legalized anywhere in the state and casinos may use a temporary betting facility while they construct a more official and permanent sportsbook.
How old do I have to be to bet in Pennsylvania?
Patrons must be at least 21 years old to gamble in Pennsylvania.
Which Pennsylvania sports teams can I bet on?
You will be able to bet on the state’s professional and college sports teams, including:
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Philadelphia Phillies
- Philadelphia Flyers
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Pittsburgh Pirates
- Pittsburgh Penguins
- Penn State University football/basketball
- University of Pittsburgh basketball/football
Can I bet on my mobile device?
Yes, Pennsylvania’s sports betting law allows for mobile betting via smartphone platforms anywhere inside state lines and does not require that patrons bet from inside its 12 casinos.
Who will oversee Pennsylvania sports betting?
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) will regulate and oversee the state’s sports betting operations.
Can I get into trouble for placing bets with unregulated online sportsbooks in Pennsylvania?
Yes, in order for a sportsbook to be legal it must be sanctioned by the state and placing bets with an unregulated bookkeeper can result in fines and potential jail time.