PA Sports Betting Is Attracting Some Big Names Including FanDuel and DraftKings

PA Sports Betting Is Attracting Some Big Names Including FanDuel and DraftKings

Sports betting has been only taking place (legally) in Pennsylvania for a few months, but the state is already attracting some big names interested in taking a bite of this brand new market. It’s also calling home some native Keystone Staters from more well-established sports betting Meccas.

The current lay of the land

When the Harrah’s Casino sportsbook opened last month it became the sixth legal retail bookmaking operation in Pennsylvania. There are six books under five licenses (Parx Casino is running two at the moment). That’s a substantial level of expansion since Hollywood Casino opened the first licensed sportsbook in the state in November of last year.

But the “gold rush” isn’t over. More books and more big time operators and even sportsbook celebrities are on the way to Pennsylvania.

FanDuel coming in time for March Madness

FanDuel is best known as a Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) operator but since being acquired by UK-based sportsbook giant Paddy Power Betfair is now a major player in sports betting. With the recent changes in US law, that means they can operate on this side of the Atlantic as well. FanDuel launched its New Jersey sportsbook last year (under the license held by Golden Nugget).

FanDuel has partnered with Valley Forge Casino to run their sportsbook which is set to open in time for March Madness. That will give FanDuel access to the US sports betting market in two states and it’s clear they will want to continue to expand as more and more states legalize and regulate sports betting.

More sportsbook expansion for the Valley Forge area

Parx Casino has been quite active in the new sports betting landscape. Last month they opened two retail sportsbooks. One is at their main casino location. The other is at an off-track betting (OTB) site called the South Philadelphia Turf Club. Parx will be opening their third retail sportsbook at another OTB, this one in the Valley Forge area, called the Valley Forge Turf Club.

OTB’s are a logical choice to host sportsbook operations. The clientele are there to bet horses, obviously, but there is a large crossover in betting interest between horse (and dog) racing and other sporting events.

A Las Vegas bookmaker heading home to PA

The Keystone state’s relaxed legal attitude towards sports betting has prompted one of its own to finally come home. Las Vegas’s South Point Casino Director of Sports Marketing Jimmy Vaccaro is heading back home to Pennsylvania. Vaccaro is a Pittsburgh native and is heading home to run run the new sportsbook at Rivers Casino.

Rivers Casino opened its Pittsburgh sportsbook in December of last year, the same month its sister property SugarHouse Casino opened theirs in the Philadelphia area. Both properties are owned by parent company Rush Street Gaming.

Expect more big names and more sportsbooks soon

The next PA casino (after Valley Forge) to open a book will probably be Presque Isle Downs and Casino. Their application is still pending approval but is expected to come through very soon.

Also favorites to enter the market are Mount Airy Casino and Mohegan Sun Pocano. These operators haven’t applied for licenses yet, but have expressed intentions to do so soon.

Perhaps one of these three casinos will be the pathway DraftKings uses to gain access to Pennsylvania’s sports betting market. They are already the top player in the New Jersey sportsbook market and have stated their intentions to operate in PA as well.

Like FanDuel, the other well known DFS-operator-turned-bookmaker, as legal sports betting spreads across the US, you can expect DraftKings to find a way into each of these new markets just as quickly as they can.

What about the other casinos?

There are still four land-based casinos who could apply for a sports betting license. While it seems like they would be mad to reject such an opportunity, it should be noted that the privilege doesn’t come without serious costs. A Pennsylvania sports betting license costs $10 million and sportsbook revenues will be taxed at a rate of 36%.

That’s a hefty price. Perhaps smaller casinos don’t see the need to make such a huge outlay and face such a stiff tax rate on an unknown market. On the other hand, even a small casino can augment the reach of their sportsbook by offering mobile (online) sports betting.

So who knows? Maybe even more Pennsylvania casinos will sally forth into this exciting new market in the near future.