What’s The Latest With PA Sports Betting?

What’s The Latest With PA Sports Betting?

When will sports betting go live in PA?

Pennsylvania regulators met in mid-September to touch base on a variety of expanded gambling efforts ongoing in the state. But while the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board met to discuss online gambling approvals and more mundane topics such as PA casino fines, one area the PGCB did not really touch on was sports betting.

But despite the lack of recent process with sportsbetting, PA sports bettors should not be alarmed. Yes, they did not meet optimistic projections to have sports betting live by the start of football season, but sports betting is very much in the mix. Just not yet.

The status of sports betting in PA

Legislation allowing sports betting was passed in October of 2017 along with a huge gambling expansion, but so far, sports betting has been a bit slow out of the gate to get going. While Pennsylvania sports betting crawls along, New Jersey, Delaware and even conservative states like Mississippi and West Virginia have leapfrogged Pennsylvania and are offering sports betting today.

So what’s the hold-up?

Part of the delay in getting sports betting up and running seems to because of the sports books themselves, or at least their reaction to the actions of lawmakers.

You see, Pennsylvania has the highest cost-of-entry of any state that has regulated sports betting. Pennsylvania casinos — which are the only eligible operators at present time — would need to fork over a $10 million license fee to participate in the market. This is in addition to $10 million license fees that most PA casinos are paying to offer online gambling products excluding online sports (that’s included in the sports betting license).

But in addition to the high license fees, PA casinos would also need to pay a 36% tax rate on income. It’s a rate that far exceeds other states, with nearby New Jersey casinos paying just one-fourth that rate.

Despite initial reservations, PA casinos have slowly become interested. In mid-August, the state welcomed its first license application. More slowly followed as results came in from nearby New Jersey and more optimism for the upside of the market became clear.

PA sports betting applicants so far

As we approach the one year anniversary of Pennsylvania’s gambling expansion and two months since license applications were accepted, who is in so far?

Penn National — who has been very aggressive with expanded gambling in PA so far — was the first to apply for sports betting, when they submitted an application August 17th. This license application came more than a month after the application process has been opened up, an indicator that casinos were hesitant to jump into sports betting with both feet.

Following Penn National came an announcement from Parx Casino, the state’s largest casino. Their application was to offer sports betting not only at the Parx Casino but at the South Philadelphia Turf Club, which is located near three Philadelphia sports venues (Citizens Bank Park, Wells Fargo Center and Lincoln Financial Center).

That’s it — just two of PA casinos have applied for sports betting as of mid-September.

What’s next?

While it would not be surprising to see a couple more applications roll in before sports betting goes live in PA — Mount Airy, Rivers Casino and Stadium Casino could be three favorites — it seems clear many remaining Pennsylvanian casinos are taking a “wait and see” approach.

The PGCB has 90 days to review applications, which would put the Penn National approval no later than mid-November with Parx’s application decided upon by late November. It’s likely that both would be approved at the same time, or close to it.

During the September PGCB meeting, sports betting apparently didn’t come up but a spokesman for the board had this to say earlier this month: “Our goal is to make sure this is done right, and [that] we protect the public’s interest, and when we think a casino or two is prepared to open a sports book, then we’ll sign off on it.”

For now, look for PA casinos to eagerly watch how newly regulated sports betting performs in other states while they continue mull over their potential role in the PA sports betting market.