Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course had the honors of booking Pennsylvania’s first ever legal sports wager this afternoon during a testing event. The move was somewhat of a surprise with little fanfare leading up to the event, but it has been no secret the state’s casinos have been gearing up to offer sports betting.

Penn Live revealed earlier today that Penn National Gaming was planning to hold two “sports betting tests” on Thursday and Friday. Today’s test began at 3 PM where the first wagers were placed. A second test is set to be run from 2 PM to 11 PM tomorrow.

According to Penn Live, Hollywood Casino will establish formal operating hours for its sportsbook once the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) issues its final approval:

  • Monday through Friday: 11 AM to midnight
  • Saturday and Sunday: 10 AM to midnight

Hollywood Casino applied for sports betting in August and is partnered with international gaming giant William Hill to manage the sportsbook. William Hill will be responsible for setting the odds, managing customers’ wagers and coming up with new bets to offer.

A page on the Hollywood Casino website explains William Hill has set up shop on Hollywood Casino’s second floor near the Skybox Sports Bar where wagers are accepted through six teller windows.

All major US sports, including college and professional games, will be covered along with a smattering of international leagues.

Currently, the website lists the following sports as open for betting:

Football Basketball Hockey Soccer
Baseball Golf Tennis Auto Racing
Rugby Cycling Boxing MMA

The Hollywood Casino website also explains that types of wagers accepted include straight bets, parlays, match-ups, futures, props and in-play betting.

Hollywood Casino is Just the Beginning

The start of sports betting at Hollywood Casino today marks the culmination of months’ worth of preparation leading to this point, but it is just the beginning of a new industry in Pennsylvania.

Six casinos have applied for sports betting in Pennsylvania to date. Five of those applications were submitted over preceding months, and just today a sixth entered the fray when Valley Forge Casino Resort applied to the PGCB for a sports betting license.

Hollywood Casino is leading the way and will be joined shortly by sportsbooks at SugarHouse Casino, Rivers Casino Pittsburgh and Harrah’s Philadelphia. SugarHouse and Rivers Casino have said they plan to commence sports betting on December 1st while Harrah’s is looking at an early 2019 start date.

Pennsylvania is shaping up to be a big sports betting market as a populated state and the first sports betting state with teams from all four of the major pro US sports leagues (football, basketball, baseball and hockey). As ESPN pointed out recently, Eilers & Krejcik Gaming has estimated that upwards of $12 billion will be wagered at legal sportsbooks in Pennsylvania once the industry gets up and running.

Taxes remain an ongoing concern with sportsbook set to pay 34% to the state plus an additional 2% in local taxes. Operators originally warned they may shun sports betting in the state, but the market potential in Pennsylvania has obviously proven too tempting for at least six casinos to pass.

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