By Ken Edwards, 29 November 2018
Pennsylvania has finally taken its first legal sports bet to become only the seventh state to begin accepting sports wagers. With the first test sports wager placed with little fanfare and nor media scrum on November 15, Pennsylvanian sports betting began. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania follows Nevada, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia, Delaware and New Mexico taking the legal sports-betting ball and running-with-it.
Interestingly, it is no coincidence that Pennsylvania’s lawmakers decided to begin taking bets now, as the Commonwealth borders three of the already-legal states that are already accepting sports wagers.
Hollywood Casino the Venue for the First PA Sports Wager
The Keystone State accepted its first legal sports wager at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, in Grantville.
Hollywood Casino, located about 20 miles north of Harrisburg, launched its full-scale sports betting operation after two days of testing (a safety and security requirement of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board).
The Hollywood Casino sportsbook is an impressive set-up. The slick in-house sportsbook is physically located on the second floor of their Grantville PA facility, and offers more than 30 televisions to follow all the action and watch your bets being played out. To begin with, only in-person wagers made over the counter will be accepted.
In early 2019, mobile sports betting is expected to follow and should assist in making the experience more user-friendly for the Casino’s clientele.
The Keystone State beat Rhode Island to the punch by only two weeks, with the New England state also beginning legal sports betting before the end of the month.
Other Pennsylvania Casinos Expected to Offer Sports Betting Soon
Five other PA facilities have also made applications to follow Hollywood Casino, and once they are also approved for operation by the state regulatory body, could begin take bets within the coming few weeks.
Among the proposed openings, included is Harrah’s Philadelphia and Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh. The opening pf the state’s two largest major population centers (home of some of the most popular professional American sports teams including reigning Superbowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, and 6-time Superbowl champs, the Pittsburgh Steelers) to legal sports betting looks set to revolutionize the way that sports wagering is perceived not only in the Keystone State, but nationwide. As the fifth-most populated state in the nation, how the sports betting uptake and business evolves in Pennsylvania will have a dramatic impact on how other states will frame their sports betting business models. Gambling stakeholders and exponents are understandably excited about the development.
What Sports Betting in Pennsylvania Means for the U.S. Market
Of all the states to accept a sports bet so far, Pennsylvania is the most substantial to date.
As the most populated state to take a legal wager, Pennsylvania opens up a significant percentage of the U.S. population to legal betting. Additionally, it boosts the emerging Mid-Atlantic sports betting market as a whole, which has developed into the epicenter of gambling expansion following the Supreme Court’s lifting of the Federal ban on sports betting. Importantly, some of the nation’s most popular sporting teams reside in Pennsylvania.
In addition to the abovementioned NFL franchises, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Pirates, as well as the Philadelphia 76ers, Flyers and Phillies have long been among the most successful-and-closely-followed in U.S. sports, receiving huge media-coverage and public-attention. It is a spotlight that can attract potential new betting opportunities.
In neighboring New Jersey and Nevada, professional-sports-teams have signed deals with betting partners, and Pennsylvanian teams are expected to enter similar arrangements. With huge nationwide fan bases, sports betting will become further ingrained in the national psyche of sports fans.