As of May 2019, Pennsylvania sports betting is about to launch online after running operations retail only.
The industry of sports betting has made its way around the world increasing in games and players but has only become legal to the American market as of May 2018 after a federal ban, put in 1992 by the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, was lifted by the Supreme Court. During this ban, Nevada was the only state where it was legal for a single person to wager on a sports game, with Montana, Oregon, and Delaware also having exceptions by approving some form of sports wagering before the law took place.
New Jersey challenged the 1992 ban, after spending years fighting and losing millions of dollars in legal fees trying to legalize gambling on sports in casinos and racetracks. All four major US professional sports leagues; NBA, NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball, the NCAA and the federal government wanted to keep the law as it was, arguing that the expansion of sports betting in New Jersey would damage the integrity of their sports. However, outside of the courtroom, everyone except for the NFL had shown they were opening up to the idea of the legalization of sports gambling.
It wasn’t until 2014, after losing another battle in court, that New Jersey took the case to the Supreme Court.
Although sports betting has now been legalized in America, the majority of the States have yet to authorize sports betting at State level before instituting their own regulatory laws first. While one state may allow you to download and gamble through an app on your phone, this doesn’t necessarily mean the same app will work (or even legal) in another state. It all depends on the state a player is in and what they want to wager on, i.e racetracks, sports, casinos, etc.
According to the American Gaming Association, it is estimated that Americans illegally wager up to $150bn on sports each year.
States where sports betting has been made legal:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
Online Sports Betting
States where online sports betting has been made legal:
- New Jersey
If a player is over the age of 21 and lives in either three of the states listed above, then congratulations! They can wager on sports online while doing so legally.
Pennsylvania Gambling Laws
Pennsylvania legalized sports betting in 2017 and has launched online as of 2019.
How to place bets in Pennsylvania:
- Must be at least 21 years of age.
- Bets can be placed in person, online, or through a mobile device.
- It must be physically located within PA borders.
- Players can not take wages from other players outside PA.
- Sportsbooks will not take bets from athletes, coaches, officials, and excluded gamblers.
Those placing bets can do so on professional and collegiate sports, (New Jersey only allows bets on the professional level, giving PA an advantage in the sports betting community) and Pennsylvania sportsbooks will take bets for all popular American sports leagues i.e. NFL, NBA, NCAA, NHL, and MLB.
After New Jersey went live with (legal) online sports betting and the launch of their DraftKings Sportsbook in August 2018, Pennsylvania followed shortly behind them launching Hollywood as their first retail sportsbook. The first combined online casino and sportsbook to launch was Pennsylvania-based SugarHouse Casino, in New Jersey.
Current List of Retail Sportsbooks in PA
1. Hollywood - first sportsbook in PA.
2. SugarHouse - first to launch a mobile sports betting program.
5. South Philadelphia Turf Club
6. Harrah’s Philadelphia
7. Valley Forge
8. Valley Forge Race and Sportsbook
9. Mohegan Sun Pocono
10. Mount Airy
11. Presque Isle Downs
SugarHouse launched online as of May 2019. While it’s offering users with Android phone options to gamble, it is expected IOS will follow shortly. Here is everything a player should know about SugarHouse:
- Available online and through the Android mobile app.
- Offering a new player sign up for any sportsbook; 100% match on a deposit of $250.
- The lowest a player can deposit is $10.
- Offering a point-based rewards program called iRush, which is loyalty based and allows players to earn points through real money wagered and the number of combinations of each sports wager.
- Players have the chance at customized deposit assistance, birthday presents, free plays, invite-only dinners (exclusive) and multipliers on wagers.
As the industry of legal sports betting is becoming more competitive, it is important that sportsbooks keep their players happy.
SugarHouse’s biggest promotion is the SugarHouse Jackpot Parlay, a chance for players to win up to $100,000 if they choose to allow the betting machine to select eight possible parlay options at random, (or player can choose their winners), and all eight bets hit.
You can also refer a friend to SugarHouse and make an extra $50, with a limit of 10 friends.
SugarHouse Sportsbook App
SugarHouse in New Jersey says, “ nearly 80 percent of its total sports wagering action is coming through its mobile app.”
How to Bet on the App:
- Main betting page is located on the upper left corner of the main menu.
- From there, players will see big events of the day and most popular in-season sports.
- The link “more sports” will take players to a page where they can find all available sports to bet on from around the world, i.e any soccer league, hockey, basketball, cricket, darts, etc.
SugarHouse Sportsbook Website
Compared to other sportsbooks SugarHouse has a few different features on their site, like listing big winners as well as jackpot casino winners and those who won off multiple bets.
How to Bet on the Website:
- Live betting takes place in the right upper corner, alerting players with a yellow button. Players can then see matches that are currently underway, and have the opportunity to bet as the action unfolds.
- Underneath the live link is a list of the most popular leagues and markets from around the world.
- In the middle of the site, players can see individual matches with the option to view all or see what’s coming up.
- At the top, players will find links to the “Promotions,” “Rewards” and “Help” pages. “Live Chat”, “Responsible Gaming” and links to get the apps can be found on the bottom of the page.
While SugarHouse was the first to launch online, it is predicted that many more sportsbooks will follow over the summer of 2019.
Mobile Sports in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, it is the launch of mobile sports betting apps that will change the state in gambling.
- More than $44 million in wagers was generated from 12 million people from Pennsylvania sportsbooks in March - a record for a state outside of New Jersey and Nevada.
But when compared to New Jersey:
- New Jersey made almost $400 million in handle in March from 3.5 million people.
The difference is mobile sports betting. Once Pennsylvania adds mobile (has started with the launch of SugarHouse) it is predicted similar growth should occur in the following months and will most likely have an effect in the New Jersey market as well.