PA’s Player-Friendly Blackjack Rules Are Staying Put

Dustin Gouker December 20, 2016
PA blackjack

The head of the Pennsylvania casino regulatory body said the state has no plans to change rules to its blackjack games.

That’s good news for casino patrons in the Keystone State, who won’t see any incremental changes that would increase the house edge in the table game in the near future.

No PA blackjack changes coming

Here’s what Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Executive Director Kevin O’Toole told Trib Live about blackjack rules:

“I don’t foresee any changes,” O’Toole said.

“Our board has consistently recognized their responsibility to protect the gaming public in all aspects of legalized gaming. Part of that is to have rules of the game that provide an appropriate house advantage to the casino but something that still meets a standard of reasonableness and a standard of fairness. We’re pleased with how we have accomplished that in games that have been on the books since 2010.”

A look inside the PA blackjack rules

The Trib Live piece goes into a great deal of detail on the rules that PA casinos abide by when running blackjack games. But here are the ones of most interest to PA casino visitors:

  • Blackjacks pay 3-to-2. Some casinos elsewhere pay at 6-to-5.
  • The dealer does not hit on soft 17 (a dealer hand totaling 17 that includes an ace valued as an ’11’). Dealers elsewhere hit such hands, which is good for the house.
  • Players are allowed to double down with any two cards. Some casinos limit a players’ ability to double down to certain hands, usually combinations equaling 9, 10 and 11.

While the rules vary in a lot of jurisdictions and casinos, these are about as player-friendly as they get. PA casinos offer a better deal than most of the blackjack games spread in Atlantic City.

PA casinos doing just fine on table games

Part of the reason for the complacency in Pennsylvania? Table games are doing just fine from a revenue perspective.

While slot machine revenue has been down of late, table games have been generating increasing revenue for PA casinos.

All that means that the state doesn’t see any reason to mess with a good thing. Blackjack is by far the most popular table game at any casino. And PA is doing well with the rules as they are.

Until that changes, expect player-friendly blackjack games to persist at PA casinos.

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