The online sportsbook floodgates are finally open in Pennsylvania. Suddenly, sports bettors in the Keystone State have three different online sportsbooks to choose from, though admittedly the two most recent are still in their somewhat limited “soft launch” phase.
PlaySugarHouse was the first PA online sportsbook to go live, and now they are followed by the soft launch of online sportsbooks by Parx Casino and the BetRivers sportsbook launched under the Rivers Casino (Pittsburgh) license.
The BetRivers online sportsbook will look very familiar to anyone who has made bets on the PlaySugarHouse site or app. There’s a very good reason for this: The BetRivers online sportsbook is really just a new rebranding of the PlaySugarHouse online sportsbook operated under the license of their sister casino, SugarHouse in Philadelphia.
Both casinos are owned by parent company Rush Street and both books are operated with the help of sports betting technical partner Kambi, so the look and feel (and games and odds and lines and types of wagers) should be identical on both apps, save for the brand.
What is a soft launch?
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) mandates that PA’s casinos go through a test phase with their online offerings prior to a full launch. During this phase, hours of operation are limited and during those hours, the regulating agency monitors and supervises the process to be sure that there are no hiccups.
PlaySugarHouse’s online sportsbook went through the standard three days of soft launch testing that the PGCB requires. Parx Casino is currently going through the same three day process right now.
BetRivers needs only two days of soft launch supervision. They get this abbreviated testing window due to the similarities with the PlaySugarHouse sportsbook that just went through the PGCB test process.
The hours of soft launch operation for BetRivers are:
- Tuesday, June 25: 4pm to midnight
- Wednesday, June 26: 2pm to midnight
Assuming all goes smoothly, starting Thursday the BetRivers app will go fully live and operate 24/7. Parx Casino’s timeline should have their sportsbook fully operational about the same time.
What’s up with Apple?
BetRivers (like PlaySugarHouse) has the Android version of their app available for download on their website, and in New Jersey, PlaySugarHouse has the iOS version of their app available on Apple’s App Store.
That’s not the case in PA though, at least not yet. The Apple company has added some new requirements to apps that deal in monetary transactions and this is making app developers to have to make major alterations of their code in order to comply.
The upshot is that for now, BetRivers isn’t available as an app for Apple devices. The short term solution is likely to be a work-around where iPad and iPhone users can make sports bets using the web browser on their device.
Eventually these casinos will create new versions of their iOS apps that comply with Apple’s new requirements, but it might take a little while.