It’s official. Legal sports betting is sweeping the US. Pennsylvania became the 7th US state to authorize their local casinos to take sports bets when the first sportsbook opened in the state at Hollywood Casino in November of last year.
More have followed since then, demonstrating that Pennsylvania is rapidly diving into the US’s long suppressed and currently burgeoning sports betting market. In the 2017 legislative session, PA lawmakers paved the way for sports betting, passing sweeping legislation that created a tax and regulatory structure for many kinds of gambling – including sports betting. They did this because they correctly anticipated that the US Supreme Court would strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which they did in May of 2018. This action removed the federal level prohibition on sports betting transactions that don’t cross state lines. With their regulatory ducks already lined up, PA regulators were quick to jump on the opportunity to offer sports betting licenses to their local casinos at a price of $10 million each. So far they’ve sold licenses to five casinos and more may follow soon.
Parx Casino is the operator of Pennsylvania’s 5th sportsbook which opened last week at it’s South Philly Turf Club location. The book is conveniently located next to Citizen’s Bank Field, home of the Phillies. This is Parx Casino’s second retail sportsbook location as they had launched their first sportsbook at their Parx Casino property earlier in the month.
A snapshot of PA’s sportsbooks:
This makes three operating sportsbooks in the Philadelphia region, the other two being in Pittsburgh and in the Harrisburg/Hershey region. The locations and operators are:
Casino Location Date opened Sportsbook partner
Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course Harrisburg/Hershey region Nov 2018 William Hill
Rivers Casino Pittsburgh region Dec 2018 Kambi
SugarHouse Casino Philadelphia region Dec 2018 Kambi
Parx Casino Philadelphia region Jan 2019 Kambi
South Philly Turf Club (operated by Parx) Philadelphia region Jan 2019 Kambi
Parx Casino’s new sportsbook is located at 700 Packer Avenue, just off the I-95. As mentioned previously, its location is very convenient for Philly’s sports fans. The sportsbook is close to Wells Fargo Center, Lincoln Financial Field, as well as Citizens Bank Park.
What does the South Philly Turf Club sportsbook have to offer?
The South Philly Club sportsbook is open daily, opening most days at noon and having extended hours during the weekend. Parking and admission are free. Here’s a breakdown of exactly when they are open for business:
- Monday thru Thursday: noon – midnight
- Friday: noon – 2am
- Saturday: 10am – 2am
- Sunday: 10am – midnight
The sportsbook accepts wagers on all the major US sports, college sports, boxing, MMA, and much more. In addition, they offer many different ways to bet on your game of choice. Options include point spreads, a moneyline, totals, parlays, teasers, and more.
Patrons of both of Parx’s sportsbook locations can use the Betslip Builder app to construct wagers prior to arriving at the betting window. This feature saves a lot of time by allowing bettors to organize their bets before arriving at the window. It also gives us a glimpse of what the Parx Casino mobile sports betting system will look like when (and if) it’s eventually launched.
What about mobile betting?
The Betslip Builder app that Parx has introduced is pretty and convenient, but it isn’t actually mobile (online) wagering. That won’t be rolled out for a little while longer and the timing of that decision is up to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB). They are waiting to make sure the retail sportsbook operations are up and running with no problems before they give final approval for casino operators to take their sportsbooks online.
All of the above assumes that the recent revised US Department of justice (DOJ) opinion regarding the 1961 Wire Act doesn’t disrupt the process. When that opinion was released earlier this month, state regulators as well as casino operators (and their lawyers) immediately began scrambling to determine the scope and impact of the new document.
The opinion doesn’t carry the force of law, but it is issued by the agency tasked with enforcing US laws. Right now nobody is certain what will happen. Maybe it will all blow over and nothing significant will change. Maybe the merging of online poker player pools will be disallowed. Maybe all online gaming in the US will be eliminated.
In an effort to calm the waters, the PGCB has stated that online gaming will proceed in the state but warned that casinos must ensure that all gambling transactions occur within the state. Given the vagaries of how the modern Internet works, it’s unclear if it is even possible to ensure no data packets inadvertently stray across state lines. Still, it’s good to know that the PGCB intends to move forward in the process.
Will more PA sportsbooks be forthcoming?
You bet. More casino operators are in the queue to receive licenses to take sports bets. Harrah’s Philadelphia and Valley Forge Resort Casino have applied and been approved to operate sportsbooks and are expected to launch their retail locations very soon. In fact, Harrah’s is expected to soft-launch this week. Presque Isle Downs and Casino has applied as well, but is still awaiting PGCB approval.
So far, there are seven casino operators with eight retail sportsbooks operating in Pennsylvania (or on the way) but more could eventually join the mix. There are still six other in-state casinos that are eligible to apply for a sportsbook license that haven’t yet done so. In addition each operator is eligible to apply for multiple retail locations – as Parx Casino has already done.
It’s too early to tell what the sports betting landscape in Pennsylvania will look like when the dust has settled. Of course the ultimate in sports betting access will arrive once (or if) mobile betting is launched. Once this occurs, bettors need not be anywhere near a retail sportsbook as long as they have the appropriate betting app and are located within the state.
All in all it’s a good time to be a sports bettor in Pennsylvania.