Pennsylvania Betting Laws

Pennsylvania Gambling LawsWith the recent shift in the gambling market in the United States (with the US Supreme Court ruling in favor of legal sports betting) and the State Legislature passing the Pennsylvania online gambling bill (The PA Gambling Bill, HB 271, providing the impetus for a full roll out of online casinos and PA online gambling in general expected later in 2018), the state is a fertile environment for land-based-casinos, and online gambling in Pennsylvania is following the trend.

Gambling Type Legal Land-Based Legal Online
Sports Betting Yes Yes (Through Land-Based Casino Sites Only)
Casinos Yes Yes (Awaiting Implementation)
Fantasy-Sports (DFS) N/A Yes
eSports Yes Yes (Awaiting Implementation)
Poker Yes No
Horse-Racing Yes Yes
Lottery Yes Yes
Charitable Gambling Yes No

Pennsylvania Gambling Tax Rate

There is no state tax on gambling winnings in Pennsylvania.

Federal taxes may apply to large wins.

Pennsylvania Legal Gambling Age

Gambling Type Age
Casinos 21
Sports Betting 21
DFS 18
Horse Racing 18
Lottery 18
Charitable Gambling 18

Okay, let’s clear up your first question; ‘Is Sports Betting legal in PA?”
A resounding ‘Yes’ is the answer. On October 26, 2017, Pennsylvanian state legislators passed bill ‘HB 271’, legalizing online casinos, poker sites and daily fantasy sports in Pennsylvania.

Sports Betting in Pennsylvania

Under the brand new State law HB 271 legalizing sports betting in Pennsylvania, in October 2018, the first of Pennsylvania’s casinos will begin to offer legal sports betting. The great news is that the way the law in the Pennsylvanian State Code is written permits wagering “by any system or method,” including in person, on the internet and mobile.

For the time being, only two of Pennsylvania’s 12 casinos have been approved to offer legal sports betting, however, that should alter relatively quickly over the next few months.
PA’s 12 Legal land-based Casinos are allowed to use a temporary betting facility for up to 18 months from the date of their license being granted, during which time it is anticipated that they will each construct a more permanent sportsbook.

Pennsylvania Sports Betting Online

As for mobile and online bettors, their location will need to be verified via IP address and/or mobile geolocation to ensure that they are inside the state’s borders when sports betting in Pennsylvania. This was part of the new range of online sports betting regulations announced by the Pennsylvanian Gaming Control Board recently;

  • Customers can bet on professional and collegiate sports.
  • Minimum age of 21 to bet online
  • Casinos must verify the identity and location of all customers before allowing them to place bets online (by using geolocators).

Online sports betting will only be offered through sites attached to the state’s 12 casinos to begin with and its thought that once all the casinos have successfully launched their land-based sports books, that legal online sports betting will begin in earnest in the Key Stone State.

Pennsylvania Casino Gambling

In July 2004, Pennsylvania land-based casinos were legalized by the state legislature and the state introduced the newly defined Pennsylvania Gaming Laws. The new law allowed for 14 slot parlors across the state. As at October 2018, there are now currently 12 in operation. Most of these casinos were located at race tracks that mainly featured horse racing as the major betting type until the mid-2000s gambling expansion.

Pennsylvania casinos have survived multiple challenges to their existence yet continue to thrive. Opponents to the lucrative ventures fought to block casino gambling in 2005 through a legal battle. The State of Pennsylvania prevailed in the following court case.

Pennsylvania Land-Based Casinos

Going back to 2007, the Philadelphia City Council passed a resolution that allowed for a referendum that would have permitted the city to have a voice in the location of land-based casinos. The city attorney determined that state law took precedence over Philadelphians in the location of casinos. The state filed suit and subsequently prevailed. The casinos were constructed as planned.

Six additional racing licenses were granted on September 27, 2006. These race tracks were permitted to operate slot machines until the regulatory process was completed. A few months later, on December 20, 2006, the six tracks were approved for permanent licenses. On the same day, five stand-alone casinos received permanent licenses from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Pennsylvania currently operates a total of 12 casinos providing the latest gaming machines and tables, in addition to access to on-site racing venues for additional betting. Most casinos are also entertainment hubs that offer concerts and top entertainment show venues and a plethora of both high-end and affordable dining options.

Pennsylvania Online Casinos

Governor Tom Wolf signed the bill into law on October 30 2017, making Pennsylvania the fourth state across the United States to legalize some form of online gambling.

In the case of Pennsylvania, the law authorizes most forms of online gambling, including poker, table games, slots, lottery, daily fantasy sports, and PA sports betting, now that the federal ban has been overturned since May 2018.

The two questions that come up most often in regards to online gambling in Pennsylvania at the moment are: When will it happen and can I use a PA online casino, and what will the PA online betting market look like?

Now that the state has legalized online gambling, it will take about 6-12 months for it to be fully implemented. For example, it took New Jersey around nine months to launch its legal market after the bill’s passage through state legislature.

In all likelihood and given an untroubled implantation period, PA residents should gain access to real money online casino games in the later part of 2018, perhaps early-to-mid 2019 at the outside.

What we can expect is for online casinos in PA to perform very well, and supply online bettors with quality games, great customer service options, secure sites powered with SSL encryption for industry-leading player security and protection, and the opportunity to make some big life-changing wins.

Tribal Casinos in Pennsylvania

Tribal Casinos, otherwise known as ‘Native American Gaming’ comprises casinos, bingo halls, and other gambling operations on Indian reservations or other tribal land across 28 states of the United States.

However, at the present time, there are no Native American Tribal Casinos in the state of Pennsylvania.

Horse Racing Betting in Pennsylvania

Horse Racing Betting is legal (both on course/track side) for all residents of the state of Pennsylvania. Federal laws allow each state to determine the legality of horse racing betting and most states allow their residents to wager on horse races both Track side, Off Track Betting and online. All of the nation’s largest horse betting websites have a presence in the state of Pennsylvania.

Track Side / Off Track Betting (OTB) in Pennsylvania

Track Side – Pennsylvania is home to six live racing venues that accept wagers on horse races. Horse racing in the state is regulated by the Pennsylvania Racing Commission and administered under the Department of Agriculture.

Off Track Betting (OTB) – Off-track wagering and simulcasts are offered at 17 locations across the state of Pennsylvania. Wagering on races in Pennsylvania and around the world are all available.

Online Horse Racing Betting in Pennsylvania

Major horse racing betting sites accept customers from Pennsylvania. Each of the major horse racing betting sites are all headquartered in the United States and all hold licenses to offer real money bets on horses and greyhounds in PA.

Fantasy Sports in Pennsylvania

Fantasy sports betting has always been exempt from all US federal legislation because it is widely considered to be a contest of skill. A few of the states prohibit fantasy sports, however, Pennsylvania never moved to put an end to the activity. Quite the opposite in fact, as Pennsylvania has passed state legislation in 2018 to formally legalize and regulate fantasy sports.

Daily fantasy sports (DFS) sites must be licensed to operate in Pennsylvania and are subject to numerous consumer protection regulations. Requirements include;

  • that all sites be licensed,
  • that they only accept customers over 18,
  • that they be subject to independent audits and;
  • that they keep players’ funds in a separate account from operator funds (in order to protect customers’ deposits).

Online Players have been able to play DFS online in Pennsylvania for years prior to the 2018 bill and little has changed now for the players. The biggest DFS sites applied for licenses immediately and all are currently authorized to continue holding real money contests in Pennsylvania.

How DFS works

Fantasy sports betting is a different best to traditional sports wagering. In a fantasy league, you are supplied with a virtual salary cap which is used to draft players for your virtual team. Every player in the league is priced according to his perceived virtual market value. If you wish to draft the best point guard in the NBA, for example, you’re going to have to spend a high percentage of your salary cap on that single star player.

Once you have drafted and ‘paid’ for your team, sit back, relax and watch that week’s games. Your team’s real-life counterparts amass stats in the real world and thereby your fantasy league team accumulates points online. The person whose team accumulates the most points, wins the league whether it be weekly, regular season or a stand-alone playoff ‘league’.

Poker in Pennsylvania

Whilst some types are gambling are actively encouraged in Pennsylvania, unlicensed Poker is not.

Poker Rooms

Of course, you can play many different types of poker (Casino Hold’em, Texas Hold’em, Caribbean Stud Poker, No Limit Hold’em etc.) perfectly legally and without fear of breaking the law at any one of Pennsylvania’s 12 brick-and-mortar casinos.

For the time being, unlicensed poker (for example, playing for money in your own home is actively discouraged), baccarat and roulette are all seen as a form of unlicensed and illegal prohibited gaming and can theoretically be charged as first-degree misdemeanors in Pennsylvania. Possible punishments are up to 5 years in prison and as much as $10 000 in fines.

Online Poker Laws

If you’re interested in playing Poker legally without any fear of legal punishment, stick to Pennsylvania’s land-based casinos and at the anticipated multitude of legal online casinos anticipated to be launched later in 2018 or early 2019.

eSports Betting in Pennsylvania

As a comprehensive sports gambling expansion package has been given the thumbs up by Pennsylvania state lawmakers in October 2017 and the Federal Supreme Court in May 2018, Pennsylvania is among the first states to have legal eSports gambling included as a part of the package.

Now that several of Pennsylvania’s casinos have been approved to offer eSports gaming, the fully legal rollout of eSports gambling in the Key Stone State’s Casino (both in-house and online) is anticipated to continue through to its completion from fall 2018 to the early spring of 2019.

What is eSports?

eSports basically turns video game playing at the very highest level into a professional sport. In some scenarios, it’s on an individual level, however, mostly it’s played through teams and across different leagues and tournaments.

The electronic games themselves are like different sports types, in some ways. For example, in eSports, League of Legends and Call of Duty are equivalent to, say, hockey and baseball. eSports is the broad overarching concept, while the different game types are the individual types of sports.

Betting on eSports is growing and continues to gain in popularity year-on-year, with an increasing number of sportsbooks now offering a range of betting markets across all major eSports tournaments.

The global gaming market will hit more than $100 billion in revenues in 2018, and eSports represents the highest-level competition in gaming today including the best and most professional players in the world today.

Look for betting on eSports at your favorite legal PA sports book from October 2018 onward.

History of Gambling in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s regulated gambling industry dates back to as early as 1959 when the state legalized horse racing, however, it was the legalization of slot machines in 2004 and table games in 2010 that turned Pennsylvania (PA) into a true gaming state.

However, a lack of customer options, stagnant revenues and increased competition from neighboring states has had Pennsylvania once again considering further expansion possibilities.

Legislative change combined with technological change is now fueling gambling expansion throughout Pennsylvania.

With the recent shift in the gambling market in the United States (with the US Supreme Court ruling in favor of legal sports betting) and the State Legislature passing the Pennsylvania online gambling bill (The PA Gambling Bill providing the impetus for the current full roll out of legal sports betting, online casinos and PA online gambling in general in late 2018/early 2019), the state is a fertile environment for land-based-casinos, and online gambling in Pennsylvania is following the trend.

We now see that Pennsylvania has emerged as the second largest state casino market in the United States, now only trailing the industry leading State of Nevada in gross gaming revenue.



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