In a 6-3 decision released on May 14, 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States declared the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) unconstitutional.
PASPA was the law that created a ban on full-scale sports betting in almost every state outside Nevada. Limited sports wagering in Delaware, Montana, and Oregon was also grandfathered in.
PASPA’s repeal opened the door for all 50 states to legalize full-scale sports betting and all signs pointed to Pennsylvania walking right through it. However, in the weeks following the Supreme Court decision, as states like Delaware and New Jersey rushed to launch legal sports betting, Pennsylvania sports betting came to a stand still.
The PA sports betting stalemate
Pennsylvania lawmakers voted in favor of sports betting legislation pending PASPA’s repeal as a part of a comprehensive gambling expansion bill passed in October 2017.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control (PGCB) put together regulations to govern the industry from the legislation and as May 2018 came to a close, the state’s 13 casino license holders were invited to apply for the right to establish sportsbooks. However, none did.
A $10 million sportsbook licensing fee and 36 percent tax rate on sports betting revenue is the likely reason why. New Jersey isn’t going to charge even half that.
It appears, at least for now, Pennsylvanians who want to bet legally on sports will have to go to neighboring states like Delaware or New Jersey to do it. In fact, Delaware launched sports betting at its three racetrack casinos June 5. A couple days later, New Jersey lawmakers passed regulatory legislation for sports betting at racetracks and casinos there. The market, including live and mobile sportsbook operations, is expected to open up almost immediately after NJ Gov. Phil Murphy signs the bill into law.
For now, in PA, the state’s 13 casino license holders will likely continue to work behind the scenes to prepare for the launch of sports betting in the Commonwealth.
That means inking deals with live and mobile sportsbook operators anticipating the market will eventually launch. The following sports betting app companies are pretty much already in PA and eagerly awaiting the opportunity to take bets:
Rush Street Interactive also runs an online casino site in New Jersey under its PlaySugarhouse.com brand. The site operates under the Golden Nugget Atlantic City internet gambling license.
Just days after the Supreme Court decision, Rush Street Interactive announced it had entered into a partnership with Kambi Group plc, a global supplier of sports betting services. The plan is to integrate Kambi’s market-leading sportsbook technology into Rush Street Interactive’s proprietary online gaming platform.
Rush Street said it plans to launch a sportsbook solution in selected states where it is permitted. That would presumably include PA at some point.
In 2014, Mount Airy Casino Resort struck a partnership with online gambling giant 888 Holdings.
There are links to the 888 Casino New Jersey online gambling site on the Mount Airy website. Plus, Mount Airy operates a free-to-play social casino site, Play Mount Airy, employing 888 software.
888 is likely to be Mount Airy Casino Resort’s real-money online gaming partner in PA. Considering 888 also runs a successful mobile sports betting app in the UK, the relationship could be extended to include online and mobile sports betting in PA as well.
Caesars Entertainment’s Harrah’s Philadelphia property could be a partner for 888 Sports in PA as well. Caesars Entertainment subsidiary Caesars Interactive Entertainment runs its World Series of Poker-branded online poker sites in Nevada and New Jersey using 888 Poker software.
Scientific Games and NYX
Two online gambling giants merged when Scientific Games took over NYX in 2017.
At the time, Scientific Games said the acquisition put it in perfect position to capitalize on future regulatory developments in real-money wagering and sports betting by adding NYX’s industry-leading OpenBet Sportsbook product.
Scientific and NYX already have some strong relationships in the PA casino industry.
It is the software developer behind Penn National Gaming’s online and mobile free-to-play social casino site HollywoodCasino.com. Penn National Gaming is based in PA and owns and operates two PA casinos: Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course and Meadows Racetrack and Casino.
Plus, Caesars Interactive Entertainment and Mohegan Sun-run online gambling operations in New Jersey run on the NYX online gaming software platform.
GAN and SBTech
Parx, the state’s top-grossing casino, is owned by Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment. The company also has an interest in the the currently-under-development Stadium Casino in Philadelphia.
Parx inked an agreement with gaming solutions provider GAN in November 2014 to have it run online gambling operations for the casino when such operations become legal.
In 2015, GAN revealed it will provide Parx with an internet gaming system for all forms of real money internet gaming, including poker, once the state enacts legislation to regulate online gambling. That happened in 2017 and the regulatory and licensing process is underway.
In January 2018, sports betting solutions supplier SBTech launched a strategic relationship with GAN. The idea is it will supply real-money sports betting services to GAN’s portfolio of US casino operator clients.
Therefore, it looks like Parx will eventually be getting an SBTech and GAN powered mobile sports betting app as well.
Additionally, just days after the Supreme Court decision, horse racing giant Churchill Downs inked a deal with Golden Nugget to enter the NJ sports betting and online gambling market under its license. Churchill Downs also announced it had entered into a partnership with SBTech to utilize its integrated online and mobile sports betting technology.
In March 2018, Churchill bought PA’s Presque Isle Downs & Casino for $178.9 million.
Boyd Gaming and Miomni
In December 2017, Las Vegas gaming and hospitality company Boyd Gaming bought Valley Forge Casino Resort for $280 million.
Back in Nevada, Boyd runs the BConnected Sports mobile sports betting app. BConnected Sports uses the Miomni Gaming software platform. Of course, Miomni Gaming also provides its software platform to Caesars’ mobile sports betting app in Nevada as well. Miomni might not get into PA with Boyd and Valley Forge. However, it’s just as likely to get in with Caesars and Harrah’s Philadelphia.
William Hill and Eldorado Resorts
British bookmaker William Hill owns and operates 107 of the 190 legal sports books in Nevada. It also has a mobile sports betting app there. Add it up and it is currently the country’s leading sportsbook operator.
It also has plans to open sportsbooks and provide mobile betting solutions at one of three New Jersey racetracks and one of nine Atlantic City casinos. These are moves that have William Hill poised to get even bigger.
William Hill has a long-standing relationship with Eldorado Resorts. It runs several sportsbooks for the company in Nevada. In fact, William Hill agreed to upgrade and operate the sportsbooks at two of its Reno properties in 2016. This includes the Silver Legacy and Circus Circus Resort Casinos.
PA’s Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin is owned by Eldorado Resorts.
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