Penn National Gaming announced today that is has begun testing at its Hollywood Casino sportsbook with the approval of the Pennsylvania Control Board. Should the testing go smoothly, the sportsbook plans to open for business Saturday, which would make it the first sportsbook in Pennsylvania to accept bets.
The news was the second big announcement of the day in Pennsylvania. Earlier in the day the PGCB announced that it had received its sixth application for a PA sports betting license. The Valley Forge Casino Resort filed paperwork on Wednesday.
Owned by Boyd Gaming, the sportsbook will be run by FanDuel, which also partnered with Boyd Gaming for “sports betting and online gaming opportunities across the United States,” in August. FanDuel also runs the sportsbooks at two Boyd Gaming facilities in Mississippi, the IP Casino Resort Spa in Biloxi, and Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall in Tunica.
Hollywood Casino Doing 2-Day Testing Ahead of Becoming First PA Sportsbook to Open, While Valley Forge Files State’s 6th Sports Betting License Application
The PGCB says there is no set timetable for approving the application. The board’s next regularly scheduled meeting is Nov. 28, which likely is too soon for the application to be considered. It’s more likely to be on the agenda for one of the December meeting dates.
Testing at the Hollywood Casino began at 3 p.m. local time Thursday, according to a Penn National press release. The two-day testing period “ensures staff and the equipment necessary to operate sports wagering are in compliance with statuatory and regulatory requirements.”
“Penn National is excited to be the first casino to offer sports wagering in Pennsylvania,” Timothy J. Wilmott, Chief Executive Officer said. “The enthusiasm around sports betting has been growing since the federal ban was repealed in May, and we look forward to providing our patrons with another great amenity to enjoy at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.”
William Hill US will operate the sportsbook at Hollywood Casino, which is near Harrisburg. The book will be located in the simulcast theater next to the renovated Skybox Sports Bar, per press release.
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) November 15, 2018
The second testing day will be Friday between 2 p.m.-midnight. Once the PGCB gives its approval, the sportsbook will open to the public at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Valley Forge Is Fourth Philadelphia-Area Casino to Apply for Sports Betting License
Five casinos have already been approved for sports betting licenses in Pennsylvania, and in each of those cases, it took a minimum of 5 1/2 weeks between the date of application and board approval. None of the casinos have opened sportsbooks to date.
Valley Forge is located in King of Prussia, Penn., and is the fourth Philadelphia area casino to apply for a license. The Parx Casino (Bensalem), Harrah’s (Chester) and Sugarhouse (Philadelphia) have all already applied and been approved. Parx plans to open two sportsbooks, the second at the South Philadelphia Turf Club, under its license. The Hollywood Casino, located in the northern part of the state, was the first to get approval. The Rivers Casino is the only Pittsburgh-area facility to have sought a license and gained approval.
Pennsylvania has been maligned in the media and across the country for its high tax rate — 34 percent state and 2 percent local — as well as its $10 million sports betting application fee. But despite those numbers, six of 13 possible sports betting facilities have applied for licenses. The state has 13 sports betting licenses, one for each of its existing or planned casinos, available. Unclaimed licenses will not be auctioned off.
Since the Hollywood and Parx casinos were approved for licenses on Oct. 3, both have been preparing for opening and working with the PGCB. According to the board, testing for the sports betting systems at Penn National’s Hollywood Casino is on the horizon, though no specific date has been announced. But should testing go cleanly, the sportsbook will be able to open the following day — and would become the first in Pennsylvania to accept sports bets.
The PGCB has not set set a date or outlined a timetable for testing at the Parx facilities or for the three casinos that won licenses at the Oct. 31 meeting, Harrah’s, Rivers and Sugarhouse.