SportsHandle.com is your place for everything you need and want to know about legal Pennsylvania sports betting. On Oct. 3, 2018 the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved the first two sports betting certificates in state history. The first was to the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, the first in the state to apply, and the second was to the Parx Casino, which used its certificate to open sportsbooks at the casino and at its South Philadelphia Turf Club location. Six Pennsylvania sportsbooks were open as of Feb. 18, 2019.
The Valley Forge Casino and Presque Isle Downs have been approved for sports betting certificates, but as of mid-February had not opened sportsbooks.
The Keystone State passed legislation to legalize sports betting in 2017 and in August of 2018, the gaming control board passed temporary sports betting regulations. The state has 13 sports betting licenses available, one for each of the 13 (12 currently open, one in the Philadelphia sports stadium area under construction), available. One license is designated for each commercial casino and unclaimed licenses will go unused — the state will not auction them off as they have with other gaming licenses.
Legal PA Sports Betting Information — Coming to Casinos and Racetracks.
Contact information for where you will be able to place sports bets in Pennsylvania is listed below. Here is a primer not just on legal Pennsylvania sports betting, but on the Supreme Court sports betting case that has allowed states to move forward with legal sports wagering.
What’s Going on in Pennsylvania?
On Aug. 15, 2018, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board passed temporary sports betting regulations that can be in place for up to two years before being made more permanent. The regulations allow for sports betting on professional sports, college sports, professional car racing and international team and individual events, including those sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee and the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA).
Pennsylvania legalized sports betting in October 2017, but it took nearly a year for any casinos to apply for licenses. Why? Pennsylvania threw down multiple roadblocks to potential operators actually offering sports betting — a $10 million licensure fee and a combined 36 percent tax (34 percent state plus 2 percent local). The licensing fee, which is due within 60 days of approval, is the highest by far of any state with legal sports betting so far. And the tax rate is nearly five times the tax in Nevada and 3.4 times the tax included in the new West Virginia sports betting law.
The law and coming regulations will permit online sports betting, meaning that any of the to-be licensees will be able to offer online sports betting and apps from the get-go. That said, none of the casinos that have obtained licenses will not offer true mobile or internet sports betting at the outset, though Greenwood Gaming, owner of the Parx Casino, said it will offer an app for use in the casino only, to allow sports bettors more flexibility with in-play wagering. According to the gaming control board’s director of communications Doug Harbach, bettors will be permitted to register and make deposits remotely and eventually place bets from anywhere within the state, as long as they are registered with a casino.
Where Can Sports Bet in Pennsylvania:
Casino Sportsbooks Open
777 Harrah’s Blvd, Chester, PA
Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course
77 Hollywood Blvd., Grantville, PA
2999 Street Road, Bensalem, PA
777 Casino Drive, Pittsburgh, PA
South Philadelphia Turf Club
700 Packer Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19148
1001 North Delaware Ave., Philadelphia, PA
Sports Betting Licenses Approved, Opening Dates Pending
Presque Isle Downs
8199 Perry Hwy., Erie, PA
Valley Forge Casino Resort
1160 1st Ave., King of Prussia, PA
Have Not Applied for Sports Betting License as of Nov. 8, 2018
Lady Luck Casino
4067 National Pike, Farmington, PA
The Meadows Racetrack and Casino
210 Racetrack Road, Washington, PA
Mohegan Sun Pocono
1280 Pennsylvania 315, Wilkes-Barre, PA
Mount Airy Casino Resort
312 Woodland Road, Mt Pocono, PA
Sands Casino Resort
77 Sands Blvd., Bethlehem, PA
United States Supreme Court Overturns PASPA: What That Means for Legal Sports Betting
On May 14, 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the state of New Jersey in Murphy vs. NCAA, overturning the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), the 1992 federal law that prohibited full-fledged sports betting in every state except Nevada.
In essence, that means sports wagering is now a states’ rights issue. Every to state is free to choose if it wants sports betting and, if so, how to regulate it and tax it.
Since May 14, legal Delaware sports betting began at its three commercial casinos on June 5, and the state of New Jersey accepted its first sports bet at Monmouth Park on June 14.
The road to the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) took about seven years in a lengthy legal battle between New Jersey and the NCAA alongside the major professional sports leagues, who used PASPA to block the state from offering sports betting. The high court heard oral argument in the case in December 2017 and ruled in May, with Justice Samuel Alito authoring the majority opinion.
In an opinion joined by all of the justices except Justice Ginsburg and Justice Sotomayor, Alito stated:
The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make.
Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own. Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not. PASPA ‘regulate[s] state governments’ regulation’ of their citizens, New York, 505 U. S., at 166. The Constitution gives Congress no such power. The judgment of the Third Circuit is reversed.”
New Jersey built its case on constitutional grounds — arguing that the law “commandeered” states to uphold its anti-gambling laws, or maintain them, or prevent states from repealing them — in violation of principles of state sovereignty. And it worked. Congress had overstepped its bounds. Congress could have outright banned sports wagering, and still could, but that’s not what PASPA did.
The case, originally titled Christie v NCAA (it changed with the new governor), was heard by the Supreme Court after making its way through the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, before SCOTUS granted New Jersey’s petition for a day in the high court.
What Was the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act?
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, known as PASPA, is the 1992 law that prohibits sports betting in every state except Nevada. Ironically, New Jersey senator Bill Bradley, a former New York Knick, was a driving force behind the bill. The key ideas behind the bill were to preserve the “integrity of the games,” to stop youths from betting on sports, and to prevent other states from legalizing sports betting.
At the time the law was passed, New Jersey was among the states that had one year to legalize sports betting, but the state failed to do so. Three states, Delaware, Montana and Oregon did take advantage of the one-year filing deadline to continue quasi-sports betting games. The law grants the U.S. attorney general and the leagues the power to go to the courts to block a state from legalizing sports betting, which is what the leagues have done with New Jersey.
For a full explanation of PASPA, click here.