Who, What And Where Can I Bet On Sports In PA?

Martin Derbyshire December 9, 2018
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Legal and regulated sports betting has finally landed in Pennsylvania.

After a relatively lengthy regulatory and licensing process, the sportsbook at Hollywood Casino became the first legal sports betting operation to take bets Nov. 16.

The William Hill US-operated sportsbook now occupies the space that once housed the horse racing simulcast theater on the property’s second floor.

With six new betting windows and a 50-foot wall of TVs for game viewing, it’s got the look of a Las Vegas sportsbook. Thanks to the variety of legal sports to bet on in PA and the extensive array of betting options available, it has the feel of a traditional Las Vegas sportsbook as well.

The sports you can bet on

According to Hollywood Casino’s website, the sportsbook at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course is ready to take in-person bets on a relatively large variety of pro and college sports. The menu includes:

  • Auto racing
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Boxing
  • Cycling
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Hockey
  • MMA
  • Rugby
  • Soccer
  • Tennis

As expected, the emphasis is on the four major professional sports leagues, which includes the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL.

Major college football and basketball are also represented on the board. They will be throughout all PA sportsbooks eventually too.

Gamblers may have to hunt the lines down, but they can also bet on international boxing and MMA matches, major tennis and golf tournaments, soccer leagues around the world, and international auto races.

Wagers players can make

The type of wagers available are also the same ones gamblers can find at retail and online and mobile sportsbooks all over the world. This includes:

  • Matchups
  • Futures
  • In-play betting
  • Parlays
  • Proposition bets
  • Single game moneyline and point spread bets

The only thing that might be significantly different at PA sportsbooks are the lines. PA sportsbooks may have a tough time offering competitive lines. They must contend with a 36 percent tax rate on sports betting revenue, which is among the highest in the country. That cost is bound to be passed on to consumers through the lines.

PA gamblers who find Hollywood Casino’s Grantville location a little far to travel to need only be patient. Sports betting should be coming to a casino or off-track betting parlor near them sometime soon.

Places where players can bet

Four other casinos already have conditional approval from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) to launch sports betting. Plus, a fifth applied for a PA sports betting license at the start of November.

These five casinos are:

Parx Casino has full approval from PGCB to move forward at the Bensalem location.

Parx has also applied for a license to operate a sportsbook out of its South Philadelphia Turf Club off-track betting parlor location. However, it appears that site will have to wait for board approval once Parx proves its system works.

As it stands, it looks like sports betting is sure to launch at what is already PA’s top-grossing casino before the end of football season. Sports betting at Parx should be available on the NFL playoffs.

Football has long been the most popular sport for American gamblers and it should be no different in PA. Expect the NFL and college football betting markets to dominate the industry once things are fully up and running across various locations in 2019.

The mobile wagering future

While both Hollywood and Parx are launching with live betting windows, they are also planning to install self-service betting kiosks. As long as they are user-friendly, self-service betting kiosks should dominate the retail side of the market. Of course, online and mobile wagering is likely to take over the entire market once it launches, much as it has in New Jersey.

The ability for gamblers to bet on games from wherever they are located inside the state has mass appeal. All PA sportsbooks will ultimately want to launch companion apps that offer a full slate of sports and wagering options to take advantage of it.

Hollywood and Parx should be the first on the online and mobile side of the business sometime in early 2019.

Parx is already planning to test things out with a fenced-in platform allowing bets on smartphones and tablets from gamblers on location.

Mobile sports betting remains the best way to take advantage of popular in-game lines. If there’s a lineup at the betting window, the line a player is after could dramatically change before they have a chance to bet it.

As the state’s first sportsbooks launch, expect to see more of the state’s 13 casino-license holders to apply to get in on the action. Plus, the number of sports that gamblers can bet on and the available types of wagers will only increase over time.

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