Pennsylvania looks set to introduce legal online sports wagering any day now. With that in mind, our panel of sports betting experts here at Betting Top 10 USA have put together everything you need to know on how we arrived where we are with sports wagering in the Keystone Stone, and when we can place an online wager on the Phillies, Pirates, Steelers, Eagles, Flyers or Penguins in the future.
When is online sports betting coming to Pennsylvania?
Online sports wagering authorities in Pennsylvania are putting the final touches to their licensing regulations before a public launch.
It is widely anticipated that online sports wagering is set to be introduced very soon (Summer 2019) and straight off the bat become a similar success to what legal land-based sports betting in PA’s bricks and mortar casinos has been since its introduction in Pennsylvania in November 2018.
How did we arrive at the precipice of legal PA sports betting?
Sports betting was deemed to be illegal across the United for more than a generation from 1992 to 2018 (across all but 4 States of the Union) due to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). As a consequence, knowledge of how sports betting actually works now has to be relearnt by a new generation of tech savvy sports bettors.
The advent of soon-to-be introduced legal online sports betting sites will make sports betting unrecognizable to what it once was back in the pre-PASPA days.
1992 to 2018
Back in 1992, U.S. Congress passed PASPA with the aim to protect the structural integrity of the sporting industry as Americans’ desire to wager on sports was increasing at an exponential rate. PASPA effectively banned all states from allowing regulated sports betting other than the states that were exempt (due to having pre-existing sports betting industries) in Montana, Nevada, Delaware and Oregon. However, Nevada remained the only state that had an ongoing sports betting industry and was the lone sports betting state until the 2018 Supreme Court ruling that re-legitimized U.S. Sports Betting at the Federal level.
Pennsylvania’s neighboring state, New Jersey, led the legal fight for the State rights against the major sports leagues and the NCAA for more than two decades.
Eventually, after several attempts, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the state of New Jersey and PASPA was effectively consigned to the pages of legal history. With the historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling, all U.S. states became free to legalize and regulate sports betting in their own right.
By the end of 2018, Pennsylvania had become one of only 8 states (including Nevada, Delaware, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Jersey) that moved quickly to introduce a land-based sports industry.
Pennsylvania was able to move very quickly on legal sports betting as the ground-work had been laid as early as 2015.
Pennsylvania’s unique legal pathway to a sports betting industry
Going back as far as 2007, the first venues for legal sports betting were set in motion. In that year, Pennsylvania bricks and mortar casinos were legalized by lawmakers and the state introduced brand-new Pennsylvania Gaming Laws. The new law allowed for 14 casinos across the state and now by 2019, there are currently 12 of those 14 available casino licenses in operation.
With the avenue cleared for casinos, it effectively provided the sites that would eventually host the Keystone State’s first legal sports betting in 2018.
By 2015, Pennsylvania State Representative Rick Kotik introduced legislation to legalize sports betting in the state by introducing Bill H 1627 into the State House. The aim of his proposed legislation was to overturn the Keystone State’s prohibition on sports betting. Fellow State Representative Rob Matzie co-sponsored Kotik’s bill. Eventually, little came of the bill, however, it set the precedent for future sports wagering legalization in the Pennsylvania State Legislature.
Not deterred, in January 2017, Matzie led a new pitch for legal sports betting in the State of Pennsylvania, introducing Bill H 519 as a new and improved follow-up to Kotik’s previous 2015 bill.
Matzie’s bill called on the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) to set guidelines for “establishing the rules and procedures for sports wagering.” Highlights of his proposed legislation called for an 18 percent tax on sports betting revenue and a $5 million licensing fee. However, the bill was proposed to stay on hold until the result of New Jersey’s appeal to U.S. Supreme Court on PASPA became known, which provided the masterstroke. The House Gaming Oversight Committee signed off on the bill in April of 2017. Despite that bill finally falling short of success in the House, it continued to set precedent.
In a desperate economic climate, Pennsylvania had been dealing with enormous budget deficits. State lawmakers continued to look towards gambling expansion legislation to institute budget repair.
Eventually, that critical piece of legislation, H 271, became Pennsylvania law.
By agreeing to redevelop Pennsylvania’s problem gambling hotline, lawmakers were able to attach further radical sports wagering plans and introduce even bigger ideas. The bill passed on October 30, 2017 with PA Governor Tom Wolf signing the bill into law.
Within 7 months, the Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports betting, and Pennsylvania launched its land-based sports betting industry just a few short months later.
Pennsylvanian Online Sports Betting Coming Soon
As of late May 2019, there are now 8 retail sportsbooks in the state of Pennsylvania, including six in the Philadelphia city area alone.
There aren’t any online sports betting sites in Pennsylvania yet, but that could change any day now. Delays related to the new interpretations of the Department of Justice Wire Act may have slowed things down a little.
However, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board appeared be buoyed by New Jersey’s opposition to the DOJ and rumour has it that several pilot tests for mobile betting sites are planned for June.
Watch this space and we’ll let you know as soon as online sports betting becomes a reality in the Keystone State.