Pennsylvania officially became a sports betting state when the Commonwealth’s first retail sportsbook launched in 2018. Now you’ll find more than ten retail sportsbooks spread across the state.
Online sports betting debuted in 2019, ushering in a new era of mobile sports betting in the Keystone State. The overwhelming majority of sports wagers in PA are now placed at the state’s more than ten legal online sportsbooks.
Below, you will find the essential details regarding online sports betting sites in Pennsylvania.
PA Online Sports Betting Apps
Online sports betting sites in Pennsylvania
PA sports betting sites offer mobile wagering via apps and online wagering through their respective websites.
Here are the top PA online sportsbooks and when they launched:
- DraftKings Sportsbook (2019): The well-known DFS company joined the burgeoning PA sports betting market with one of the better apps. DraftKings features a user-friendly interphase chock full of bonuses, promotions and betting markets. It’s a juggernaut in Pennsylvania, consistently ranking in the top three in the state in terms of handle.
- BetMGM Sportsbook (2020): The namesake app of MGM Resorts International, BetMGM is known for having a solid platform. But it has its issues including navigation quirks. That being said, the BetMGM app has a lot of great betting markets and live betting features. It’s a well-rounded site that is worth any bettor’s time.
- FOX Bet Sportsbook (2019): FOX Bet arrived in PA and hasn’t stopped wowing sports bettors since. The site offers a ton of ongoing promos, many of which are linked to FOX Network personalities. They’re fun bets, but many also offer the potential for some serious returns. FOX Bet lives up to the hype of its name.
- FanDuel Sportsbook (2019): If you’re looking for simplicity and efficiency, look no further than FanDuel. The PA sportsbook has a platform that’s both user-friendly and packed with features. The app and the website both make for an easy path to get to betting markets with a simple swipe or click of a button.
- Unibet Sports (2019): This is not a well-known brand name in the US, but Unibet Sportsbook comes with its own European flair for betting markets, usability, and efficiency. The app is simple without a lot of frills. However, Unibet has a lot of live betting features and markets for the average sports bettor.
- BetRivers Sportsbook (2019): Say hello to a familiar brand with Rush Street’s BetRivers. The book has a lot of expectations to live up to being the local guy in the market, so it’s no surprise that it’s become a popular destination for online betting. BetRivers features a clean layout that allows you to zoom in on the markets and place your bet with minimal effort.
PA sportsbook licensees, retail locations, and online betting partners
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) oversees all sports betting in the state, both retail and online.
Only PA casinos (and racinos) can get a license to offer retail and online sports betting. Every retail casino with the exception of Lady Luck Nemacolin has been granted a sports betting license in PA and nearly all of them also have an online sportsbook.
Each land-based operator is entitled to one retail and one online skin per license. As more Category 4 “mini-casinos” open, sports betting options will continue to expand in PA.
Here’s a look at land-based licensees and their respective retail and online sports betting partners in Pennsylvania:
|Sports Betting Licensee
|Valley Forge Casino
|The Meadows Casino
|Hollywood Casino at Penn National
|Mount Airy Casino
|Fox Bet Sportsbook
|The Sports Book
|Mohegan Sun Pocono
|Presque Isle Downs
|William Hill Sportsbook
|South Philly Race & Sportsbook
|Mohegan Sun Lehigh Valley
Here is a look at retail sportsbook locations around PA:
Benefits of legal online sports betting
Once you accept that Americans are already betting billions of dollars on sports every year, and that most of it is through illegal bookies and offshore online sportsbooks, it’s easy to see that there are several benefits to legalized sports betting.
For those who bet sports, legal sports betting offers a safer environment with increased consumer protections. Legal sports betting in Pennsylvania also means a boost to the local economy, new jobs, and a significant tax revenue stream for the state.
Regulated sports betting also slows the proliferation of illegal sports betting operators. Since it’s all above board and public, legal sports betting also means the integrity of sports across the country is better protected than ever before.
Top sports betting events, sports teams in PA
Pennsylvania doesn’t differ much from the rest of the country when it comes to major sports betting events.
The most-bet-on event in the country and in PA is the annual NCAA men’s basketball tournament. March Madness may get even more attention in PA because a local-Philadelphia team, the Villanova Wildcats, have become perennial contenders, winning the tourney in 2016 and 2018.
The Super Bowl is the second-biggest betting event in the US and PA. Of course, the Super Bowl’s popularity in Pennsylvania was at an all-time high in 2018 when the Philadelphia Eagles won it. However, the NFL is also wildly popular in Pittsburgh where locals bleed the black and gold colors of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Other local teams that draw a lot of betting interest in PA include:
- Penn State Nittany Lions (NCAA football)
- Pittsburgh Panthers (NCAA football)
- Philadelphia Phillies (MLB)
- Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB)
- Philadelphia Flyers (NHL)
- Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL)
- Philadelphia 76ers (NBA)
Other significant sporting events that draw a ton of betting action in PA include:
- World Series (MLB)
- NBA Finals
- Stanley Cup Playoffs (NHL)
- The Masters (PGA)
- College football playoffs
- Kentucky Derby/Triple Crown
Unfortunately, PA sportsbooks cannot accept wagers on non-sporting events like the NFL Draft or the Academy Awards. For a PA sportsbook to take action on something, it must be directly tied to a sporting event.
PA sports betting FAQ
Are legal sports betting options live in Pennsylvania?
Yes, they are. Pennsylvania law allows for regulated sports betting at licensed PA casinos or on licensed sports betting apps run by PA casinos. Betting with offshore online sportsbooks and illegal bookies is still against the law, but there are now several legal sports betting options in Pennsylvania.
Who is eligible for a sports betting license?
The PGCB only grants licenses to run retail sportsbooks to existing PA casino license holders. That includes racetracks with casinos, otherwise known as racinos.
Is there legal online sports betting in Pennsylvania?
Yes, there is. Online sports betting launched in Pennsylvania when the first sports betting site went live on May 31, 2019. The state is now home to several online sportsbooks.
What about mobile sports betting apps?
Pennsylvania online sportsbooks are available on desktop browsers (for use with a Geolocation plug-in) but most are also available in app form. The first step is downloading your favorite PA sports betting app for either iOS or Android.
What sports can I legally bet on?
You can bet on almost all US college and pro sports in PA. That means the big four US pro sports leagues: NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL. Plus, most major NCAA-sanctioned college sports. There are even betting markets in PA for overseas sports action like European football, cricket, and rugby.
What colleges are excluded?
You can bet on all US college teams in PA. New Jersey restricts college sports betting to schools and games outside the state only. PA does not have such restrictions.
Are there other PA sports betting restrictions?
If it’s a sport, you can pretty much bet on it in PA. The only restriction is that the betting market must revolve around a sporting event. That means you cannot bet on non-sporting events like the Academy Awards or the NFL Draft. It also excludes Super Bowl props like the color of gatorade that will be dumped on the winning coach.
Who is eligible to place a sports bet in Pennsylvania?
As long as you are 21 or older and physically inside the state of Pennsylvania, you can place a sports bet online or live at a retail sportsbook. The lone exception is if you are in any way, shape, or form involved with the team or the league you wish to bet on.
How does an online sportsbook know that I’m actually inside PA when I place a wager?
Online sportsbooks in Pennsylvania employ geolocation software to make sure anyone placing a bet is inside PA at the time. There’s no getting around this law.
What types of sports betting does Pennsylvania support?
PA law allows for single-game wagering at licensed retail and online sportsbooks. That means all kinds of traditional bets are available on a variety of sporting events, including:
- Point spreads
- Totals (over/unders)
- Round robins
- Player, team, and game props
- Live, in-game betting
How much revenue does sports betting generate for Pennsylvania?
PA has established itself as the third-largest sports betting market, trailing only New Jersey and Nevada. PA sportsbooks surpassed $4 billion in total wagers (handle) before it turned two years old.
What are the tax rates on PA sports betting?
Online and retail sports betting in PA are taxed at 34% plus a 2% local share assessment. That means 36% of all sports betting revenue is going to the Commonwealth.
What about esports betting?
Because esports don’t fit the definition of a traditional sporting event, bettors can’t currently bet on esports in PA. That said, PA lawmakers have discussed the possibility and could legalize esports betting sometime in the future.
What about daily fantasy sports?
PA began regulating daily fantasy sports (DFS) in May 2018. That means it’s legal to play DFS at licensed PA fantasy sports operators.
History of PA sports betting
Pennsylvania was one of several states that legalized sports betting pending a change in federal law prior to the US Supreme Court declaring the federal ban on sports betting unconstitutional in May 2018.
That was the only change in federal law PA needed to move ahead, and the PGCB was immediately tasked with producing regulations to govern sports betting in the Commonwealth.
The PGCB came up was the following plan:
- Allowing PA casinos to apply for a sports betting license giving them the right to operate online and retail wagering on sporting events approved by the board.
- Charging sports betting licensees a one-time fee of $10 million.
- Allowing each licensee a single online sports betting skin prominently featuring the name of the associated casino.
- Allowing licensees to launch supplemental retail sportsbooks at off-track betting and local satellite casino locations.
It took some time for the first to be submitted, but sports betting license applications began pouring in by August 2018.
The state’s first retail sportsbook
Hollywood Casino at Penn National was the first to apply and launched the state’s first retail sportsbook on Nov. 15, 2018.
As other locations prepared to launch, on Dec. 7, Presque Isle Downs submitted a license application. Sportsbooks began opening at casinos across the state, and by the end of March 2019, Mount Airy and Mohegan Sun applied for licenses as well.
That left Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin and Sands Bethlehem. The tiny Lady Luck operation looked to be leaving sports betting to sister site Presque Isle Downs.
As for Sands Bethlehem, it was going through a sale. That sale closed at the beginning of June 2019 with the property becoming Wind Creek Bethlehem. The new owners claimed they were moving ahead with the process of bringing sports betting to the casino.
Around the same time, the era of online PA sports betting was ushered in when SugarHouse began online app testing on May 28, 2019. By July 29, four online betting apps were up and running with more getting ready to launch.
That brings us to August 2019 with nine PA retail sportsbooks operational and four more to launch this year, and each to either run a PA sports betting app already or have plans to launch one soon.
PA sports betting law, regulations
Pennsylvania legalized sports betting, pending a change in federal law, as part of a comprehensive gambling expansion package approved in October 2017. That change in federal law came on May 14, 2018, when the US Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) and upheld a 2014 New Jersey law aimed at allowing sports betting in casinos and racetracks in the Garden State by a vote of 6-3. PASPA is the law that made sports betting illegal everywhere except Nevada, and limited sports gambling in Delaware, Montana, and Oregon.
PASPA declared unconstitutional
In the written Supreme Court decision, Justice Samuel Alito said PASPA infringed upon state sovereignty guaranteed in the US Constitution. He also said states should be able to make their own choices when it comes to sports gambling, opening the door to legalized and regulated sports betting across the country.
Of course, Pennsylvania is ahead of the curve on the issue, as one of just a handful of states that legalized sports betting pending a change in federal law prior to the release of the Supreme Court decision. That paved the way for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) to set up the regulatory framework for legalized sports betting inside the state.