Pittsburgh is Pennsylvania’s second-largest city and a hotbed for professional and college sports. With approximately 2.3 million people living in the Pittsburgh metro area, it is expected to represent a huge chunk of the PA sports betting market, second only to Philadelphia.
Sports became ingrained in the city’s culture in the 1970s when Pittsburgh became known as the “City of Champions.”
The city’s three major pro sports teams are:
- Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates
- National Football League’s Pittsburgh Steelers
- National Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Penguins
College sports are big in Pittsburgh as well. In fact, there are three NCAA Division I schools that call the city home. These schools are:
- University of Pittsburgh
- Duquesne University of Pittsburgh
- Robert Morris University
Pittsburgh first became known as the “City of Champions” 1970s when the Pirates, Steelers, and University of Pittsburgh Panthers won multiple championships. The nickname rose to prominence again in 2009 when the Steelers and Penguins both won titles.
All three pro sports teams in Pittsburgh wear the same black and gold colors, creating a camaraderie among each team’s fan base. It remains the only city in the United States where this is the case.
The Pittsburgh Pirates stance
In June 2018, as regulators were in the middle of creating regulations to govern the state’s legal sports betting market, the Pittsburgh Pirates sent the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB)a letter.
The letter said the team will be greatly impacted by the legalization of sports betting:
“On a local team level, the Pirates are obviously one the handful of professional sports organizations that will be most directly affected by any new regulations in Pennsylvania. We think it is important to note that any revenue generated through sports wagering is largely dependent on organizations like the Pirates who actually supply the sports wagering product.
“Without professional sports there can be no professional sports betting. Providing a professional sports product is a costly endeavor. While our landlord is responsible for capital repair and improvements at PNC Park, the Pirates are responsible for maintenance and operational expenses at PNC Park, which has consistently been named the premier ballpark in the country since its opening in 2001. The capital needs at PNC Park are significant and unfortunately are much higher than the current funds allocated to them by our landlord.”
The Pirates want a piece
The letter also asked for money from sports betting to keep up maintenance on the team’s PNC Park home stadium
“We have been engaged in constant dialogue over the past five to seven years with city, county and state officials about the need allocate a funding source to the capital needs of PNC Park. It stands to reason that a portion of the revenue collected from sports wagering should be allocated to the maintenance and capital upkeep of PNC Park and the other sports-based facilities in Pennsylvania which provide for sports wagering in the first place. We are concerned that no such provision is included in the current law or the regulation.”
Public money built PNC Park. The Pirates contributed only $40 million of the $262 million price tag.
The PGCB has since released a variety of temporary sports betting regulations. The Board appears to be ignoring the Pirates’ request so far.
Legal sports betting options
There are currently very few options for legal sports betting close to Pittsburgh. Since June 2018, Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, and West Virginia have all launched legal sports betting.
Philadelphia is less than a two-hour drive from most New Jersey and Delaware sportsbooks. However, Pittsburgh is over five hours away.
West Virginia’s Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races is a little over a three-hour drive away and appears to be the closest legal sportsbook location to Pittsburgh. The Sportsbook at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races opened Sept. 1, 2018.
It takes wagers including parlays, match-ups, futures, props, and in-play betting on pro and college sports. The facility features 24 odds-display monitors and 50 feet of wall space dedicated to 80-inch TVs for viewing. Individual viewing stations and lounge seating is on its way as well.
In Pennsylvania, Hollywood Casino Penn National Race Course in Grantville has applied to turn its simulcast theater into a sportsbook. Hollywood Casino Penn National Race Course is a three and a half hour drive from Pittsburgh.
Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment has also filed an application to open sportsbooks at Parx Casino in Bensalem and the South Philadelphia Turf Club off-track betting parlor in Philadelphia’s Sports Stadium District. Both are a little less than a five-hour drive away from Pittsburgh.
A Rivers Casino sportsbook?
Of course, Pittsburgh is home to Rivers Casino, just a stone’s throw from Heinz Field where the Steelers play. The facility boasts 2,900 slots, more than 100 table games, and a 30-table poker room. It’s proximity to Heinz Field appears to make it the perfect location for a sportsbook. However, Rivers Casino operator Rush Street Gaming has yet to apply for a sports betting license.
The Meadows Racetrack & Casino is within the Greater Pittsburgh Region. However, Penn National Gaming now owns the property. Its sports betting plans surround Hollywood Casino Penn National Race Course for now.
Of course, mobile and online sports betting will allow gamblers to place bets from wherever they are inside state lines. Mount Airy Casino Resort in the Poconos has announced a plan to launch mobile sports betting under The Stars Group’s BetStars brand in the near future. Pittsburgh sports fans will be welcome to place wagers there when it launches. Valley Forge is also getting in the betting game. That casino plans to bring FanDuel online sportsbook to the Keystone State.
They will also have the option of betting with Parx online. The state’s top-grossing casino facility is also promising to take its sports betting offering online.