This October 3 made it to Pennsylvania history as the day PA casinos got their first sports betting licenses. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board gave the green light to two businesses - the Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association (Penn National) and Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment. Respectively, regulated PA sports betting will take place at the Hollywood Casino and Racetrack, Parx Casino and the South Philadelphia Turf Club.
While we’ll probably get to see sports betting at the Hollywood casino in a few months, Parx is said to launch theirs as soon as this November.
The company may have the PGCB’s authorization, but it still has to comply with some additional conditions. To make the launch official, the Office of Enforcement Counsel needs to sign off on it first.
The Pennsylvania OEC said it would have to check the functionality of the new sports betting technology before it gives it a green light. Only once Parx Casino gets the OEC’s double confirmation can they make sports betting a reality at the Turf Club.
This decision naturally wasn’t made without a certain amount of resistance on Parx’s side. After a prolonged debate, the two sides settled on minimizing the time for delaying the opening. A launch in November may sound ideal to Parx, but it has not yet been confirmed.
It’s easy to understand the urgency coming from Parx Casino executives, since they’re about to sit through not only the start of football season but also the first games of the World Series, starting this Oct. 23.
Sports betting is making changes in many new areas in Pennsylvania. We saw that for the first time in the South Philadelphia Turf Club which increased its entry age from 18 to 21 - the state’s legal gambling age.
As is expected, a lot of remodeling plans have been made for both the Hollywood Casino and Parx Casino, which are both getting new sports betting areas. This is also true for the racetracks - at the Turf Club, sports bets can be made right next to the horse race betting area in place.
That doesn’t necessarily mean less renovation, though. Word of mouth is there’ll be brand new banks of TV screens installed in all three locations.
The question on everyone’s mind was how long until PA sports betting comes online with the first sports betting apps. Apparently, that won’t happen all the way until early 2019 which means live casinos will be the only places to gamble on your favorite teams.
In fact, you could still do that through a mobile app - through a location tracking system, casinos can make in-casino mobile betting available. The app will only activate when your device is connected to the casino’s authorized Wi-Fi.
If you want to use this option you first have to purchase a one-day account at the entry cage. Once you’re done betting, you cash out your winnings at the casino and your account is closed.
When Parx casino was stating its case to the PGCB, the topic of in-game betting came up a lot. Parx’s presentation revealed that in the UK in-game betting amounts to 80% of all sports betting revenue.
We saw this effect in New Jersey too, where reports show that in-play betting brings in 70% of sports betting profits. So it comes as no surprise that Parx expects to see the same pattern once this type of betting is allowed in Pennsylvania as well.
It was precisely this line of thought that leads the PGCB to allow mobile betting within casino grounds. Due to the dynamics of in-play betting, it all needs to happen online so that bets can be placed quickly and without the stalling at the teller.
That’s why this fall, most of PA sports betting will probably be happening on people’s phones.
Other than Penn National and Parx, who was the first to pay up the $10 million fee to become a licensed PA sports betting provider, three more casinos have applied. Rivers Casino, SugarHouse Casino and Harrah’s Philadelphia are all expected to enter the market after the end of this October.
Neither SugarHouse, nor Harrah’s are newcomers to the market. Both SugarHouse and Caesars (Harrah’s owners) are at the top of the New Jersey sports betting market with their respective mobile apps, and Caesars also have got live sports betting at two NJ casinos and two more in Mississippi.
These newcomers are speeding up the development of the PA sports betting scene and everyone expects even more applicants to show up after the PGCB meeting this late October.