Pennsylvania legalized mobile sports betting in 2017 as a part of a larger gaming expansion package that also authorized online casinos, poker and lottery games.
Daily fantasy sports and online horse racing betting are also legal in Pennsylvania. Today, PA gamblers have access to a full spectrum of online gaming options that are licensed, regulated and safe.
In-person gaming options include land-based casinos, retail sportsbooks, racetracks, video gaming terminals (VGTs) at truck stops and the PA Lottery. Interactive tablet gambling at airports is also legal but not yet active.
Legal Pennsylvania Betting Sites
Sports Betting and Online Gambling:
Horse and Greyhound Betting:
Mobile Sports Betting in Pennsylvania
A massive gaming overhaul bill approved in 2017 paved the way to legalize in-person and online sports betting, casino gambling and poker. Most Pennsylvania casinos applied for licenses to offer these forms of online gaming and the Gaming Control Board has issued multiple approvals since then. Online and mobile sports betting is now available in Pennsylvania.
Online sports betting began in May 2019 after the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) gave SugarHouse Sportsbook the green light to commence operations. Now, Pennsylvanians have access to in-person and mobile sportsbooks alike.
Retail Sportsbooks in PA
Most PA casinos have launched sportsbooks since the passage of the 2017 gambling expansion law. The following list of PA sportsbooks provides a basic overview of each along with information for online betting if offered by that casino.
Sports Betting Legalized in Pennsylvania
As rumors spread that the Supreme Court was considering striking down the federal sports betting ban, Pennsylvania emerged as one of the states most interested in exploring new sports betting opportunities. Over the course of a single week in 2017, state lawmakers made two moves to bring real money sports betting one step closer to fruition.
First, there was the massive gambling overhaul passed in mid-October 2017 that declared live and online sports betting will be legal, taxed and regulated as soon as it becomes legal at the federal level. At the time the bill was passed in Pennsylvania, federal law still prohibited states other than Nevada from legalizing and regulating sports betting.
Second, Governor Wolf decided to allow the state lottery to begin offering virtual sports betting. This decision occurred within days of the legislature’s approval of the aforementioned gambling expansion bill. Virtual sports betting is designed to look exactly like real sports betting but with the one obvious difference being that virtual sports games are never contested in the real world.
At the end of October 2017, Governor Wolf signed the online gambling bill into law to legalize not just online casino games, fantasy sports and online poker, but also sports betting. After the Supreme Court struck down the federal sports betting ban in 2018, the portion of Pennsylvania’s new gambling law related to sports betting took effect.
Most of the news coming out of Pennsylvania these days is good for gamblers, with the exception being excessive tax rates applied to sports betting. Current gaming laws call for a combined state/local 36% tax rate on sports betting – one of the highest in the nation and more than 4 times higher than the tax rate levied on sports betting in New Jersey.
The Gaming Control Board had trouble attracting casinos to apply for licenses at first, with operators such as William Hill US plainly stating they had no intention to apply for a sports betting license due to the excessive fees and taxes. Others involved in the gaming industry expressed similar concerns.
Roughly two-and-a-half month after the Board invited casinos to apply for licenses, the Board received its first applicant: Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course. Interestingly, Hollywood Casino has teamed up with William Hill US to offer sports betting despite the former previously saying it had no interest in Pennsylvania.
Online Gambling Legalized in Pennsylvania
HB 271 passed the Pennsylvania House and Senate in 2017 to legalize gambling and betting sites in Pennsylvania. Governor Tom Wolf signed the bill into law days after the legislature sent it to his desk.
Most land-based casinos have applied for online gambling licenses and the first PA online casinos went live in July 2019.
PA online gaming law covers a lot of ground, but the most important parts of the law grant existing casinos as well as other “qualified entities” the ability to apply for licenses to offer online casino games.
Casinos and other “qualified gaming entities” are required to have licenses for each of three different types of online gaming:
- Non-peer-to-peer interactive games which simulates slot machines
- Non-peer-to-peer games which simulates table games
- Peer-to-peer interactive games which simulates poker
In other words, casinos must be specifically licensed for online slots, table games and poker. Each license may be applied for individually at a cost of $4 million. Existing Pennsylvania casinos were also given the option to purchase all three licenses in a package deal for $10 million during the first 90-day period after the law was passed.
High tax rates remain an issue with online slots facing a tax rate of 52% plus 2% local taxes. Likewise, table games and poker are taxed at 14% + 2% and sports betting at 34% + 2%.
Nine casinos opted for the package deal and submitted their licensing applications on or before July 16th, 2018. The following casinos now offer online gambling in PA:
|Land-Based Casino||Online Gambling Website|
|Harrah’s Philadelphia||Caesars Casino: pa.caesarsonline.com|
|Mohegan Sun Pocono||Unibet Casino: pa.unibet.com|
|Parx Casino||Parx Online Casino: pa.parxcasino.com|
|Mount Airy Casino Resort||PokerStars Casino: starsmtairycasino.com, pokerstarsmtairycasino.com|
|Hollywood Casino||Hollywood Online Casino: pa.hollywoodcasino.com|
|Hollywood Casino Second Skin||DraftKings Casino: Available through iOS/Android apps|
|Presque Isle Downs Casino||BetAmerica Casino: pa.betamerica.com|
|Rivers Casino Philadelphia||SugarHouse Casino: pa.playsugarhouse.com|
|Rivers Casino Philadelphia Second Skin||BetRivers Casino: pa.betrivers.com|
|Valley Forge Casino Resort||FanDuel Casino: Available through iOS/Android apps|
|Wind Creek Bethlehem||Not live; partnered with Pala Interactive for online casino|
|Live! Casino Philadelphia|
|Approved QGEs (Qualified Gaming Entities)|
|Borgata Hotel Casino Spa||Not live; partnered with Roar Digital (BetMGM)|
|Golden Nugget||Not live; operates Golden Nugget Online|
PA Horse Racing Betting
Trackside and online horse racing betting is legal in Pennsylvania. The State Horse Racing Commission oversees the conduct of all horse racing and betting in the Commonwealth, including oversight of advance deposit wagering providers (ADWs).
Where to Bet on Horses in Pennsylvania
Under state law, ADWs must acquire licenses prior to offering online horse racing betting to residents. Most major online racing betting sites today offer their services in Pennsylvania. The largest ADWs currently active in PA include:
PA Daily Fantasy Sports
In October of 2017, the state legislature sent a massive gambling expansion bill to the governor’s desk. This bill covered a wide range of activities including online poker, online gambling, online sports betting and daily fantasy sports.
The governor signed off on the bill within days of receiving it and the portion of the bill relating to fantasy sports took effect on April 28th of 2018. Daily fantasy sports sites must be licensed to operate in Pennsylvania and are subject to numerous consumer protection regulations.
Among those regulations are requirements that all sites be licensed, that they only accept customers over 18, that they be subject to independent audits and that they keep players’ funds in a segregated account separate from operator funds (in order to protect customers’ deposits).
People were able to play daily fantasy online in Pennsylvania for years prior to the passage of the bill and little has changed for the players. The biggest DFS sites applied for licenses immediately and are currently authorized to continue holding real money contests in Pennsylvania. Our recommended sites at the top of this page are all licensed and legal.
PA Online Lottery
The big gambling expansion law we discussed earlier also included reforms for the Pennsylvania Lottery. Most notably, the bill granted the lottery permission to offer lottery-style games online. Some of the types of games permitted include lottery tickets, instant scratch card games and keno, but the lottery is not authorized to offer games that resemble those found in casinos (such as blackjack or slots).
In June of 2018, the PA Lottery announced the launch of its new online gaming site located at PAiLottery.com. The new iLottery website launched with a small selection of chance-based games that function similar to the scratch you buy in the real world, but with all the animations, sound effects and bonus rounds you can only get by playing online.
Not long after the PA legislature sent that bill to Governor Wolf, the governor made a separate announcement that he would be authorizing the Pennsylvania Lottery to operate virtual sports betting terminals in authorized locations such as bars and taverns. The state lottery predicted that the change would result in up to $75 million in additional revenue over the next five years.
More About PAiLottery.com
The Pennsylvania online lottery site (see our review here) is open to anyone 18 and over. You can try demo games from anywhere in the nation, but real money play is limited to customers located within Pennsylvania state lines. The lottery website uses geolocation technology to detect your current location and ensure the real money games remain firmly inside state borders.
If you’re at least 18 and are located in Pennsylvania, you can create a real money account and fund it via debit card, ACH e-check or PayNearMe. The minimum deposit is $10 and there is no maximum withdrawal limit.
The state lottery takes problem gambling seriously and PAiLottery is built with several features designed to help keep things under control. Players can set daily, weekly or monthly deposit limits to combat overspending. Players may also set time limits and loss limits. Finally, the lottery website offers complete self-exclusion periods ranging from one to five years.
Sign up for an account at PA iLottery and Get $5 in Free Plays:
Past Efforts to Legalize Online Gambling in Pennsylvania
All legislation detailed below is dead today, but we figured it would be better to leave these overviews up rather than delete them outright. It’s interesting to look back at previous efforts and see that excessive tax rates and licensing fees are not a new thing in Pennsylvania. Note that this is not a comprehensive list of every bill ever proposed in Pennsylvania. We’re just sticking with the biggest bills that appeared the likeliest to pass at one point.
2013: House Bill No. 1235
Representative Tina Davis introduced House Bill No. 1235 a couple of times. The bill called for the legalization and regulation of online poker and casino games such as blackjack, slot machines and so on. A previous iteration of the bill included burdensome licensing fees and taxes. At one point, the bill required a licensing fee of $16,500,000 per operator and a 45% tax rate on the industry.
She reintroduced the bill in 2013 with considerably lower fees and taxes. The 2013 edition asked for a $5,000,000 license fee and a 28% tax rate. These updated rates brought Pennsylvania more in line with what we’re seeing in other states.
Overall, the bill was fairly lenient. It did not include a “bad actor” clause, which means sites such as PokerStars and Party Poker would be able to return to Pennsylvania and apply for licensing. The bill included an allowance for Pennsylvania to join interstate pacts with other states that legalize internet gaming. What this means is poker sites in Pennsylvania would be allowed to share player pools with poker sites operating in other states, thereby increasing the overall player pool for everyone.
The rest of the bill goes on to describe the measures that will be taken to ensure gambling remains fair, safe and free from the influence of crime. This bill was referred to the gaming oversight committee in April of 2013 and never came back.
2014: Senate Bill No. 1386
Senators Edwin Erickson and Bob Mensch introduced SB 1386 in June of 2014. Like the previous bill, this one paved the way for legalizing and regulating online casino games and poker. This bill too called for a $5 million licensing fee.
SB 1386 did contain several key differences. First, it proposed a tax rate of just 14%. Second, this one did include a bad actor clause. What that means is any gaming companies that accepted wagers from the United States after 2006 would be forever prohibited from offering their services in Pennsylvania.
Additionally, licenses would only be issued to existing brick-and-mortar operators in Pennsylvania. These operators could team up with 3rd party software providers, but all online operations would have to be promoted and marketed under the brand of the brick-and-mortar establishment.
2015/2016: House Bill No. 649, SB 900
HB 460: Full Text
SB 900: Full Text
HB 649 was first introduced in February of 2015 and hung around throughout part of 2016. This law wanted to direct the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to create regulations, license operators and monitor licensees.
HB 649 would allow brick-and-mortar casinos to apply for licensees for an $8 million fee and give them the ability to partner with existing online gaming providers who can provide the technology and expertise to take brick-and-mortar casinos to the digital realm.
State Representative John Payne, chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee, told Trib Live in January of 2016 that he believes the state will find the potential income from legal online casino games too irresistible to pass on.
“Look, we need revenue,” he said. “They’re not going to find votes for taxes in an election year. So I would think gaming will be a component.”
One bill introduced in 2015 even proposed a ridiculous 54% tax rate for online gaming revenue. The tax rates specified in SB 900 were seen as ridiculous at the time, but unfortunately that bill did set the stage for high tax rates in the 2017 bill that was later approved by the House and Senate.
A pair of identical bills were introduced in the House and Senate in 2017. Those bills called for poker sites and online casinos to apply for licenses at a cost of $8 million up front and $250,000 per year thereafter. Technology providers would likewise be subject to hefty taxes and fees: $2 million up front and $100,000 per year thereafter.
These two bills also called for a tax rate of 16%, which was much, much better than what some other proposals have called for. Neither bill made it into law, but they did set the stage for what would come later.
Shortly after those two bills were proposed, a third bill came out of nowhere courtesy of state Senator Jay Costa. His massive bill consisted of 200+ pages of regulations that would ultimately legalize gambling as well as formally legalize fantasy sports. The problems with this bill included taxes and fees. This one called for a $10 million licensing fee for gambling sites, $5 million for software providers and a tax rate of 25%.
Timeline of Legal Gambling in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania legalized horse racing in 1959. The first racetrack to open was Meadows in 1963.
The Pennsylvania Lottery is established.
After several failed attempts to legalize casino gambling, Pennsylvania passed the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act. The law legalized slot machines at up to seven racetracks, five stand-alone casinos, and two resort casinos.
In 2010, Pennsylvania updated the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act to include table games.
Online Gambling, Sports Betting, DFS, and More
Pennsylvania passed a comprehensive gaming expansion law in 2017. The highlights of the bill were the legalization of online casino games, online poker, online lottery, retail and online sports betting, daily fantasy sports, mini-casinos, and VGTs.