The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) confirmed last month that online sports betting and gambling are imminent. Last month, PGCB officials said they are planning to begin testing mobile sports betting apps within “two or three weeks.” The PGCB has also targeted the week of July 15th for the rollout of online casino games and poker.
It has been a full month since that declaration with no word on an exact launch date, but officials affirmed last week that the first mobile apps will enter a testing phase “imminently,” during which mobile sportsbooks will be available for limited hours as regulators monitor the proceedings.
After two- or three-days’ worth of testing, the PGCB will approve apps for 24-hour operations barring any surprises. What this all means is clear: online sports betting is coming soon to Pennsylvania.
PA Mobile Sports Betting Start Date
Mobile sports betting will be launching any day now.
PGCB Spokesman Dough Harbach told Penn Live last month it would be “within the next two to three weeks” that the first sports betting sites go live for testing. That was reported on April 17th and we’re still waiting, but it shouldn’t be much longer.
Harbach has also said there will be an announcement letting people know how to sign up for an account once the first betting sites launch for testing. During the testing phase, PA betting sites will run on limited hours while regulators look on. If all goes well, each betting site will be able to run 24/7 after receiving the green light.
Who’s Allowed to Bet on Sports in PA?
People 21 or older and located inside state lines may bet on sports in PA. You do not need to be a PA resident to play. As long as you’re physically present in Pennsylvania, you’re welcome to play – even if you’re just passing through.
Whether you live in PA or not, you will be required to verify your identity during the registration process as required by state law. This will mean sharing your name, address and most likely the last four of your social with your mobile betting provider.
PA law also requires betting sites use geofencing technology to ensure bets are only placed from within state lines. If you’re betting from a mobile device, you will be asked to share location information. If you visit from a desktop, you will be asked to install a plugin that will determine your actual location.
Geolocation was a bit of a spotty thing back when New Jersey first opened its mobile betting market, but the technology has improved significantly since then. You should have no issues confirming you are actually in PA, even if you’re near the border.
Which Betting Sites Will Be Ready to Launch?
Dough Harbach also said at least one casino with an online betting partner is ready to go as soon as regulators launch the test period. He made that comment more than a month ago, so it is possible more than one will be ready to go now that we’re well into May.
Eight PA casinos have received licenses from the PGCB allowing them to offer in-person and online sports betting. All eight are partnered with highly experienced online gaming companies to run their mobile sportsbooks, so any of these could be ready to go on day one:
- Harrah’s Philadelphia: Scientific Games
- Parx Casino: GAN, Kambi and SBTech
- Hollywood Casino: William Hill
- Valley Forge Casino: FanDuel
- SugarHouse: Rush Street Interactive and Kambi
- Presque Isle Downs: SBTech and BetAmerica
- Mohegan Sun Pocono: Kindred Group (Unibet)
- Mount Airy: The Stars Group (which has a deal in place with Fox Sports to launch a new site called Fox Bet)
- Rivers Casino: Rush Street Interactive and Kambi
Of these, SugarHouse Casino looks particularly promising as an early contender to launch mobile betting in PA soon. Of all the casinos that have acquired PA sports betting licenses, SugarHouse is the only one with actual experience in the US market due to its operations in New Jersey in partnership with Monmouth Park.
You can see our SugarHouse review to get an idea of the site’s style and approach to sports betting. It will not be surprising in the least to see SugarHouse launch a nearly identical product in Pennsylvania.
Hollywood Casino at Penn National may also get off to a fast start with William Hill as its online betting partner. William Hill has tons of experience in online gaming and should have no trouble launching in Pennsylvania once regulators give the go-ahead.
Valley Forge also has a strong partner in fantasy-site-turned-sportsbook FanDuel. The new FanDuel Sportsbook has been active in New Jersey for months and now reigns as the state’s market leader in revenue.
What types of Bets Can I Place Online?
Pennsylvania sports betting regulations allow mobile apps to accept the same types of wagers taken in-person at retail sportsbooks. This means you’ll be able to place all your standard moneylines, point spreads, futures, props and many more once the first betting sites go live.
In-play betting will also take greater prominence in Pennsylvania with mobile apps making the live experience much more convenient. In the more mature European markets, in-play wagers are estimated to account for 70%+ of total betting handle.
For those new to the concept, picture yourself watching the game at Buffalo Wild Wings with mobile phone in hand, placing wagers on the outcome of the next at-bat, whether or not the next field goal will be made and so on. In-play betting adds a whole new, completely in-depth experience.
Making Deposits and Getting Paid
Pennsylvania’s betting sites have not released many details regarding their inner workings, but we can look to other states for a preview of what’s to come. Over in New Jersey, licensed betting sites support a range of deposit and withdrawal methods.
Some of the options we’re most likely to see in PA include:
- Credit and debit cards: This will almost certainly be an option from day one. All you need with this option is your credit or debit card, security code and name – it’s just like purchasing something online from Amazon.
- PayPal: PayPal has proven to be a fairly popular option in New Jersey and should eventually make an appearance in Pennsylvania as well. If you have any problems depositing with a credit card (some banks still block all gambling transactions), PayPal is an effective workaround.
- ACH / eCheck: Most NJ betting sites offer transfers straight from your bank account to your betting account. We expect to see the same offered in Pennsylvania. Bank transfer deposits are nice because they’re managed entirely online, are inexpensive (or free) and cashouts are sent right to your bank account.
- Cash in Person: This one is speculative, but we know most NJ betting sites allow you to make cash deposits in-person at each site’s land-based partner. In Pennsylvania, for example, it may be possible to fund your SugarHouse online gaming account by walking into the actual SugarHouse in Philadelphia. Again, we stress this is just speculation right now.
How Big Will the PA Sports Betting Market Be?
Pennsylvania has a ton of potential as an online sports betting market. In fact, it could easily be among the very top even if all fifty states eventually get around to legalizing mobile betting. A population of nearly 13 million combined with a heavily pro-sports culture make the state a prime market.
Numbers coming out of New Jersey offer some useful perspective when considering where Pennsylvania may go. New Jersey has a strong sporting culture just like Pennsylvania and a population of around 9 million.
Last month alone, New Jersey casinos grossed more than $84 million in sports betting revenue. Since New Jersey legalized sports betting 10 months ago, bettors have wagered roughly $2 billion. Keep in mind, Pennsylvania also has a significantly larger population.