By Ken Edwards, 19 December 2018 The number of legal sportsbooks in Pennsylvania grew overnight from one to three last week, with two more sportsbooks opening, one in Philly (SugarHouse Casino), and one in Pittsburgh (Rivers Casino). The move to expand the Pennsylvanian sports betting offerings was made back in November when approval was first granted by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. After putting the final cosmetic touches to the two Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming-owned sportsbooks, Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh and SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia began their initial testing periods last Thursday. Following the final green light approval by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, regular sports-betting hours began on Saturday, December 15. Only Hollywood Casino at the Penn National Race Course beat Rivers to market, opening the embryonic Pennsylvania sports betting market on November 15. A Rivers Casino spokesman said the first bet placed there was an unparochial $11,000 on the New England Patriots minus 2½ points over Pittsburgh’s own Steelers in the crucial AFC home game in the Steel City. Three of the state’s 12 brick-and-mortar casinos now have sportsbooks, with more on the way. Five more of the Keystone State’s casinos don’t have sports betting licenses yet. The young PA sports betting industry has been slightly hamstrung to begin with by a $10 million sports betting licensing fee, and a 36% tax rate applied on what the sportsbooks win from sports bettors. The announcement of the opening of PA’s two newest sportsbooks coincidentally came the same day as the announcement of a wonderful November sports betting report for the neighboring Garden State of New Jersey, which began legal sports betting in June 2018. The Rivers Casino Sportsbook Whilst temporary only at this stage (the permanent sportsbook is anticipated to open in the spring of 2019), the Rivers Casino sportsbook, is physically located between the high-limit table games room and a self-serve beverage station, is a comfortable and non-smoking. complete with: Nine large-screen HD TVs 18 high-top tables capable of seating four people each. 24 lounge chairs Choice of service types is a big element of the Rivers Casino sports betting operation. For those who are independent and prefer to take control of their betting, the sports book has six self-serve betting kiosks. If the human touch is more your thing, then a counter with six terminals for placing bets with personal betting operators is also available. Rivers Casino executives, state officials, and representatives of the Pittsburgh’s three professional sports teams (The Steelers, Pirates and Penguins) marked the historic opening event in the Steel City with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Bets by some of Rivers’ invited high-rollers and top-tier customers followed immediately thereafter. The Sugar House Casino Sportsbook Unlike its sister casino in Pittsburgh, the Philadelphia-based SugarHouse Casino Sportsbook did not receive a bump from having a home NFL game scheduled for its opening weekend with the Eagles playing away in Los Angeles. The SugarHouse sportsbook is also a temporary one, located right by the Casino’s poker room for-the-time-being. The permanent sportsbook, scheduled to open in 2019, will be a state-of-the-art facility in terms of technology and comfort and will occupy the space currently taken up by the Casino’s Lucky Red bar. General manager of SugarHouse, Cheryl Duhon, got the sports betting underway by making a brief, but historic opening announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready? This is an exciting day for SugarHouse. I’ll count down and tell them to place their bets. Three, two, one … Place your bets!” First bets included a $100 wager for the Los Angeles Rams over the Philadelphia Eagles, and another $200 gamble on a struggling Philadelphia Flyers outfit.