Hello, Neighbor! At Long Last, PA Enters The Legal Sports Betting Market

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Pennsylvania, on your mark. Get set. Bet.

It’s been a long road, but neighboring Pennsylvania is finally launching sports betting.

The sportsbook at Hollywood Casino at Penn National will officially open its doors on Saturday, Oct. 17 at 11 a.m.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board shared the good news via Twitter on Thursday.

What to expect in Pennsylvania

Currently, there are six casinos with conditional approval to launch sports betting in PA.

As mentioned, Hollywood Casino will open this weekend provided the sportsbook makes it through the testing phase.

Three more casinos are slated to open their sportsbooks in December:

  • Parx Casino
  • Rivers Casino
  • SugarHouse Casino

Two more casinos will launch sports betting after the first of the year:

  • Harrah’s Philadelphia
  • South Philadelphia Turf Club

Additionally, Valley Forge Casino recently applied for a sports betting license and is awaiting approval.

That makes seven retail sportsbooks compared to New Jersey’s soon-to-be 10. Pennsylvania limits the number of skins for online sports betting to one per casino license. That will make for a smaller sports betting market in the Keystone State.

But, six Pennsylvania casinos have not applied for a sportsbook license. The $10 million license fee and the 34 percent tax on gross gaming revenue does not make sports betting nearly as attractive as it is in New Jersey.

Use NJ online sportsbooks in Pennsylvania? No can do

Just because PA sports betting is live doesn’t mean it’s fair game for sports betting.

If you’re wondering whether that DraftKings Sportsbook app you love or the FanDuel Sportsbook website you are loyal to will let you place a bet in Pennsylvania, the answer is no.

As per the rules for NJ sports betting, you have to be in New Jersey to use any and all of the eight online sportsbooks. The Garden State and the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement have their own set of rules and boundaries, and the same goes for PA regulations. The two can’t mix.

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t (if you so choose) check it out at a PA casino near you.

Hollywood Casino is located in Grantville, about two hours away from Philadelphia and three hours away from Atlantic City casinos.

Philadelphia, on the other hand, is only one hour away from Atlantic City and even less to the NJ border where a player can place their bets using one of the eight New Jersey mobile sports betting apps.

And as mentioned above, some Philadelphia casino sportsbooks are slated to open by the end of the year. Mobile sports betting, on the other hand, won’t go live until sometime during the first quarter of 2019.

How does this affect New Jersey sports betting?

Of course, there is an assumption that Pennsylvania sports bettors have been making their way to New Jersey to place their wagers. And most likely, they have been doing it since June, when the Garden State launched legal sports betting.

Naturally, Pennsylvania launching its own sports betting operations will eventually slow down the interstate traffic. It is not likely to happen immediately though.

If Pennsylvanians are driving to place a mobile sports wager, they will likely continue to do so because of their proximity to New Jersey.

Any real impact on New Jersey sports betting won’t happen until Philadelphia area casinos launch sportsbooks and mobile sports betting goes live. Even then, it may not be that significant.

A little sports betting crossover in PA and NJ

The Pennsylvania sports betting market will have some operator overlap with New Jersey, namely Sugarhouse Sportsbook. The pace of partnerships in New Jersey over the past few months may foreshadow what is to come for PA operators.

For instance, Kambi recently partnered with Parx Casino. Kambi also powers three NJ sportsbooks:

As part of that deal, Parx may find its way into the NJ sports betting market. In turn, Golden Nugget and MGM may find their way into PA sports betting.

There is likely to be more crossover between the two states as the nascent PA sports betting market settles in. And in the end, the competition in Pennsylvania actually bodes well for NJ sports betting.

As operators begin to acquire customers, they will be looking for ways to differentiate themselves. We have already seen the power of being first to market with DraftKings. The online sportsbook launched nearly three weeks ahead of playMGM and FanDuel Sportsbook.

It gave the company a distinct advantage, and it has dominated NJ sports betting revenue ever since. So, as PA sportsbooks solidify their customer base, it’ll be interesting just how the two states will come to grips with two growing markets.

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About

Kim Yuhl is a freelance writer and blogger who writes about poker culture and the online gambling industry. A part-time member of the poker media since 2013, Kim recently sold her marketing business to write full-time while exploring the world.