Online Sports Betting Testing Phase To Begin Soon In Pennsylvania

Online Sports Betting Testing Phase To Begin Soon In Pennsylvania

Testing of online sports betting is to begin within a week according to Communications Director Douglas Harbach of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB). Before online sports betting can go live, the PGCB will need to watch closely to make sure everything is functioning correctly. A primary focus will be to ensure that geo-location features are working properly.

Only people currently in the borders of Pennsylvania will be allowed to bet on these sites. The testing will only be done during certain hours of the day so regulators can keep track of who is gambling. This may or may not be tested with members of the public.

“We are moving closer and if all move[s] as expected, the first test of a site should occur in a week or so”, wrote Harbach in an email. This is exciting news for the industry. Sports wagering has only recently been made legal in Pennsylvania. Currently six casinos have operational retail sportsbooks. A total of eight are approved, with Mohegan Sun being the latest and expecting to open their sportbook at Mohegan Sun Pocono sometime this fall. At least ten casinos in total are expected to have sports betting in the future.

Exactly which app will go online first is unknown at this time. It could be between SugarHouse Casino and Rivers Casino from Rush Street or possibly Parx Casino.

Marc Oppenheimer (Chief Marketing Officer of Parx Casino), had previously stated that his company’s site would be ready to launch in April of 2019. No one knows if Parx will be the first, but we are pretty sure they are ready.

The legal landscape

In 2017, the Pennsylvania legislature passed laws massively expanding the kinds of gambling legally available in the state. This was done in anticipation of a favorable Supreme Court ruling that would open the door to individual states being allowed to offer gaming to their residents.

The ruling in Murphy v. NCAA was indeed favorable and the PCGB began to offer many different kinds of  licenses to the thirteen operating casinos in the state. The cost for each sports betting license was $10 million which authorized casinos to take sports bets in person and online.

The taxes on the new venture will be high, as sports betting will be taxed (to the casinos) at a rate of 36%.

Brick and Mortar Sportsbooks

Eligible But Yet To Apply For A Sportsbook License

Who Will Be Allowed To Bet Online in Pennsylvania?

Currently, only persons physically located in the state of Pennsylvania will be allowed to bet online on the new sites and apps. That does not mean that residents are limited to only betting local sports.

Currently, the physical sportsbooks offer action on:

• NFL, NCAA, MLB, NHL, NBA
• Golf, Tennis, Canadian Football League
• Tennis, Boxing, UFC, Rugby, Nascar
• Major League Soccer, Premier League Soccer, LaLiga, Bundesliga and more.

The same wagers should be available online as well as soon as sites and apps are launched statewide.

What about DraftKings and FanDuel?

In order to hold a license to operate a sportsbook online in Pennsylvania, one must have a licensed brick and mortar casino in the state or be partnered with such an entity. DraftKings, a major player in other jurisdictions, has yet to partner with a Pennsylvania operator.

FanDuel, another major player, has partnered up with Valley Forge Casino Resort, so they are eligible. Valley Forge has already obtained the expensive license.

Current Sports Betting locations:

SportsbookAddressOnline Brand
Hollywood Casino777 Hollywood Blvd.
Grantville, PA 17028
William Hill
SugarHouse Casino1001 N. Delaware Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19125
PlaySugarHouse
Parx Casino2999 Street Rd.
Bensalem, PA 19020
Parx
Rivers Casino777 Casino Dr.
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Rivers
Parx at the Turf Club700 Packer Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19148
Parx
Valley Forge Casino1160 1st Ave.
King of Prussia, PA 19406
FanDuel
Harrah's777 Harrah's Blvd.
Chester, PA 19013
Harrah's
Valley Forge Turf Club600 Cresson Blvd.
Oaks, PA 19456
Parx

How Many Apps Will There Be?

It looks like each casino will only be allowed to operate one “skin” or brand per license. This caps the number of apps available in the state. Moreover, for large sportsbook partners (like FanDuel) there is no incentive to make deals that allow their casino partners to dilute their market share by dallying with other sports betting brands.

What Kinds of Sports Bets Can I Make?

It is anticipated that players will be able to make a variety of different kinds of sports bets. There should be no difference between the types of bet you can make online and in person. These bets include straight bets, parlays, round robin, fixed odds, money lines, prop bets and in-play betting.

League data

While some data (such as the score) is easily verifiable, other data (such as the speed of a certain pitch) may only be readily available if the casinos have some sort of partnership with the leagues. This could be an advantage licensed casinos have over illegal or underground book makers.

It has long been known that gambling increases sports viewership. If sportsbooks can offer interesting prop bets such as “will there be a 100 mph pitch this game?” and obtain that information from the leagues, that could be beneficial to both.

Will sports betting be worth it?

With an extremely high tax rate of 36% to overcome, Pennsylvania casinos will have to find ways to stand out from offshore and underground competition. Some casinos have decided they don’t want to take that gamble and are sitting on the sidelines watching to see how things play out.