Operators Apply for Third and Fourth Pennsylvania Sports Betting Licenses

Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Pennsylvania quickly approved a sports betting bill after the federal ban on this type of wagering was lifted in May 2018. Now it appears that operators have applied for four of the 13 available sports betting licenses.

Recent state gambling developments

Pennsylvania legalized online gambling in October 2017 and was quick to pass a sports betting bill after the Supreme Court decision was made. They were the fourth state in the country to pass such a bill.

The state’s casino sector is growing stronger and is behind only Nevada in annual revenues. They also have one of the most successful lotteries in the United States. Since it began in 1971, over $28bn (£21.5bn) has been raised for a variety of social causes.

Since Pennsylvania is clearly a pro-gambling state, it was a no-brainer that sports betting would be introduced.

Sports betting to date

Due to some friction between the state gambling regulators and the major casinos in the state, sportsbook betting has got off to something of a start.

The application process for the sports betting licenses has been widely criticized. Each one costs $10m (£7.7m). Since significant tax rates are being proposed for online gambling in particular, a lot of parties are wary of obtaining licenses.

The two casinos that are likely to open up the first sportsbooks in the state are the Hollywood Casino in Harrisburg and the Parx Casino, which is just outside Philadelphia.

They will not be officially approved for their licenses until October, when public meetings will be held on the issue. The applicants will make presentations to the committee, and specific opening date for the sportsbooks will be announced.

That move will allow them to open sports betting both online and offline. Currently, it is being proposed that sports betting gross profits will be taxed at 36% in Pennsylvania, which is very hefty, compared to 10% in West Virginia, 9.25% in New Jersey, and 6.5% in Nevada.

Latest sports betting license applicants

More operators are now joining the sports betting party in Pennsylvania.

The third operator to apply for a sports betting license was Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack. If approved, Harrah’s will offer offline, online, and mobile sports gambling.

Caesar’s Entertainment owns this casino, so it was a logical step because the parent company already has opened sportsbooks in Nevada, New Jersey, and Mississippi. It also is ideally placed near the borders of Delaware and New Jersey, so anyone who was crossing state lines to place sports bets will be enticed to stay in their home state.

Now a fourth operator, Rush Street Gaming, has applied for a license. Rush Street operates the SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia.

This operator already offers online and offline sports betting in New Jersey and is looking to get rapidly involved in the Pennsylvania market. Rush Street applied for an online gaming license in July and was given the go-ahead at the start of September. It only makes sense to add sports betting to the mix.

One snag is that the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will not look at these two recent applications at their next meeting on October 3 because they would not have enough time to thoroughly consider the proposed applications in advance.

The first two license applications will be decided on at that meeting.  The board will review the latest two applications at its next proposed meeting, scheduled for October 31.