Pennsylvania has always been at the forefront of the legal sports betting boom that is rippling across the country. New Jersey might get most of the credit for bursting the dam on legalized sports betting in America, but Pennsylvania was right in the mix too. In fact, the state was preparing for eventual legalization long before it happened.
That’s one of the main reasons why Pennsylvania sports betting took off so quickly. If you are looking for a robust sports betting market with a wide variety of sports coverage and wagering options, you can’t do much better than the Keystone State.
The legalization debate in Pennsylvania went on for years and began in earnest in the early 2000s when slot machines were first legalized. But the real movement toward the actual legalization of Pennsylvania sports betting came in 2017 when the state was creating an expansion to its existing legalized casino games.
Lawmakers saw the writing on the wall at the Supreme Court, so in preparation for SCOTUS returning the question of sports gambling to the states, they legalized it. Which is why following that landmark decision, it took just six months for the first sportsbook to open.
The bill at the heart of Pennsylvania sports betting is H 1627. Passed and signed in October 2017, it authorized the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to offer sports gaming licenses to existing casino operators for both retail and online sportsbooks.
Other than high school sports, you can bet on almost any sporting event taking place around the world. Along with the main team sports of football, basketball, hockey, baseball, and soccer, you can also wager on rugby, golf, tennis, darts, cycling, motorsports, table tennis, volleyball, MMA, and boxing, among many others.
The types of wagers you can place in Pennsylvania are also large and diverse. They include:
Take the points, or lay them. A point spread is used to determine the favorite and the underdog.
A moneyline bet is a win/loss bet that uses odds to determine the difference between the favorite and the underdog.
Also known as a totals bet, this bet is on the total combined points scored, and if the number will go over or under the posted line.
Small bets combined into one large parlay bet. If it wins, the parlay pays off big. But to win, every one of the small bets must also win.
Pick some teams and bet them as parlays in every possible combination. Each winning combo is a win for the player.
These are individual or team bets inside an event. Prop bets may include the winner of a coin toss, the first team to score, or which starting running back finishes with the most yards.
These are bets on events that have yet to take place, such the winner of the World Series or Stanley Cup Finals.
Live betting allows bets to be placed on sporting events that have already started. Also called in-play betting, live betting markets have buyout options, updated odds and points spreads, and quarter and halftime lines.
The sports betting market in Pennsylvania is huge, and it is being served by some of the biggest and most experienced operators in the industry. All Pennsylvania sports betting sites are reputable and reliable, but there are some that stand just a little taller than the rest.
Some of the things that we look for when comparing Pennsylvania online sports betting sites are the incentives they offer to sign up, make deposits and place bets. However, we also consider the variety of sports betting markets available, banking options, customer support and more. On that basis, our top picks are:
The DraftKings sportsbook app is fast and easy to use, and the options for sports and markets seem endless. Currently, the bonuses that are available add up to an impressive $1000 in free money and risk-free bets. Unsurprisingly, the DraftKings sportsbook is at the top of the heap.
One of the newer kids on the block, Fox Bet is already standing out because of its $500 risk-free bet, $500 deposit bonus, and first-rate mobile app. The live betting options are also top of the line.
A true innovator in the industry, FanDuel has a great app, the perfect platform for live wagering, and a $500 risk-free bet. Their sportsbook also integrates with their online casino and daily fantasy sports site.
Retail Sportsbook Partner: Presque Isle Downs and Casino
Technology Partner: SBTech
Affiliated with the racecourse in Erie, BetAmerica has struggled with branding and brand recognition. The parent company of the racecourse and retail sportsbook is Churchill Downs, which means that horse racing is prominently featured. The online sportsbook is also integrated with their online casino.
Retail Sportsbook Partner: Rivers Sportsbook Pittsburgh
Technology Partner: Kambi
Kambi’s vast experience in running sportsbook technology is really evident here. The online and mobile apps are fast and smooth and perfect for in-play wagering. You also get a deposit match of up to $250 as a new customer.
BetRivers Sportsbook connects seamlessly to the BetRivers Casino, making this an attractive option for customers who enjoy all types of gaming.
Retail Sportsbook Partner: Harrah’s Philadelphia
Technology Partner: Scientific Games
It took more than a year to happen, but 14 months after Harrah’s in Philadelphia began taking sports bets, their online sportsbook - bearing the Caesars brand - also opened.
Few brands mean as much in the world of gambling like Caesars and Harrah’s. And while the offerings may be limited at the moment, both the sportsbook and casino are expected to grow.
As of now, the options may be small, but the initial risk-free bet of $300 and access to Caesars Rewards are very nice incentives.
Retail Sportsbook Partner: The Meadows Sportsbook
Technology Partner: Kambi
Featuring carousels, in-play betting, live ticketing, and an easy connection between sportsbook, casino, and daily fantasy sports, DraftKings is our choice as Pennsylvania’s best online sportsbook.
The sign-up and deposit bonuses are big, and the sports and wagering options are even bigger. They also have one of the best customer service departments in the industry. Immediate withdrawals via bank transfer are also a very nice feature.
Retail Sportsbook Partner: Valley Forge Casino and Sportsbook
Technology Partner: IGT
Another one of our top picks for an online sportsbook, FanDuel has moved from daily fantasy sports into an entire one-stop shop for all things real-money gaming.
FanDuel’s online sportsbook offers a $500 risk-free bet and connects to both its online casino and daily fantasy sports site. They also have one of the best mobile apps in the industry.
Retail Sportsbook Partner: Mount Airy Casino
Technology Partner: The Stars Group
You know the name Fox Sports, and you know PokerStars. Fox Bet is the result of both entities coming together to create both an online casino and sportsbook, with the sports wagering connecting itself to the sports programming that gives Fox it’s national credibility.
Not only does Fox Bet offer all of the options you would expect from a seasoned sportsbook, but they also have game and betting analysis from the many Fox personalities that you'll know from watching sports.
The mobile app is great, and the $1,000 in sign-up and deposit incentives are even better.
Retail Sportsbook Partner: Parx Casino and Resort
Technology Partner: Kambi/GAN
Another product of Kambi, the Parx Sportsbook website is easy to use, easy on the eyes and does everything you wish it would do. The homepage for the app isn’t quite as clean as we'd like, but once you get into it, the experience is solid.
Also solid is a $500 risk-free bet, daily odds boosts, and one-click connection to the Parx online casino.
Retail Sportsbook Partner: Rivers Casino Philadelphia
Technology Partner: Kambi
Eventually, SugarHouse is going to rebrand itself to Rivers Sportsbook, separating it from its sister sportsbook BetRivers. But both are part of the Rush Street Interactive family of entertainment properties, and both have the advantage of being powered by Kambi.
SugarHouse, the very first sportsbook in Pennsylvania, will give you a deposit bonus of up to $250 and a full slate of banking options.
Retail Sportsbook Partner: Mohegan Sun Pocono
Technology Partner: Kindred Group
Unibet and Kindred Group aren’t well-known names in the United States. However, as European betting entities they are regarded as some of the best in the business.
Using the license owned by Mohegan Sun Pocono, a tribally-owned casino, Unibet offers $20 as a sign-up bonus in free bets and another $250 in a deposit bonus for a risk-free bet. They also have both their sportsbook and online casino connected online and through their mobile app, and the functionality of both is very good.
In addition to the online and mobile sportsbook options just discussed, Bettors in Pennsylvania can also place wagers with a variety of land-based sportsbooks:
Part of the Mohegan Sun Pocono casino, The Downs at Lehigh Valley is an off-track betting parlor that is now taking sports wagers.
Located in the back of the main casino floor, the sportsbook at Harrah’s Philadelphia boasts more than 4,000 square feet and features a half-dozen live betting windows.
Originally paired with William Hill to run its retail sportsbook, Penn National now owns a stake in Barstool Sports and is expected to launch a rebranded version of its sports betting offerings soon. The sportsbook itself has live windows, betting kiosks, and more than 50 feet of television wall space.
Located 30 minutes south of Pittsburgh, The Meadows sportsbook is inside the racetrack and on the casino floor. There are five live betting windows, 18 betting kiosks, and a series of 86-inch 4k ultra HD TVs to watch your bets play out.
Open since September 2019, the Mohegan Sun Pocono partnered with Unibet to build and brand their retail sportsbook. Bar service, a 28-foot video screen, and six betting kiosks are highlights at the Unibet Sportsbook.
Mt. Pocono, PA
Live tellers, eight betting kiosks, and sharing a space with the poker room are what you’ll find at the sportsbook at Mount Airy. The Stars Group, the force behind PokerStars, are the builders and operators of the FOXBet branded sports betting products.
Associated with Parx Casino and Racing, this off-track betting parlor has taken live sports bets since March 2019. It has more than 100 televisions and features betting through both live windows and kiosks.
The largest gaming complex in Pennsylvania, Parx has a casino, racetrack, and brand new 10,000 square foot sportsbook. Open 24 hours a day, with staffed tellers for 16 of those hours, the Parx Sportsbook features an incredible 156-foot wall of televisions that can broadcast a total of 36 different sporting events.
Right next to the racebook, the Presque Isle sportsbook has more than 50 self-service betting kiosks and another 50 large screen televisions.
The only casino in Pittsburgh is home to the only sportsbook in the Steel City. There are two dozen 86-inch TVs, a pair of 50-foot LED video walls, six betting windows, and more than 30 self-service betting kiosks. The 5,500 square feet of the sportsbook can accommodate up to 200 customers.
Part of the Parx family, this off-track betting parlor has been operating as a sportsbook since January 2019. Formerly known as the South Philly Turf Club, the sportsbook has both live betting windows and self-service kiosks.
Still branded as SugarHouse online, the newly branded Rivers Casino Philadelphia launched its sportsbook in December 2018. The sportsbook has a bar, electronic poker, live windows, express kiosks, and the ability to pre-build your betting slips for faster check out at the counter.
King of Prussia, PA
FanDuel runs the sportsbook at Valley Forge Casino, which features betting windows, self-service kiosks, and a pair of sports tickers. There are 27 televisions here on which you can watch your wagers play out.
You aren’t likely to find bonuses when visiting one of the state’s retail sportsbooks because they only compete locally. Online sportsbooks compete across the entire state, so they offer a variety of bonuses and promotions to attract bettors.
One of the easiest ways a sportsbook can attract new business is by offering a welcome bonus. Just sign up, and they’ll give you money. This is often this is in the form of an initial risk-free bet that only triggers in the event that it loses, but even that has value.
The bigger sums come when online sportsbooks offer deposit bonuses. Generally speaking, these are for first-time deposits, and they can match up to 100% of your own cash. A limit of up to $500 is common, but some will match even more.
Because terms vary, always make sure you know exactly what the bonus is before you make your deposit. If you can get an extra $100 to bet with, depositing only $50 might be a costly big mistake.
Even considering playthrough requirements (the amount you must wager before making withdrawals) deposit bonuses are great for bettors.
A loyalty or rewards program is usually a casino promotion. That said, some sportsbooks, like BetRivers, do offer the same rewards to both casino and sports betting customers.
Again, do your homework, because having access to an excellent rewards program can really pay off in free bets and gifts.
A good number of Pennsylvania sportsbooks will offer free bets of up to $50 for referring friends as new customers. There will also be promotional bets tied in with specific sports, teams, or days of the week. It’s common to find insurance on certain plays - such as cash back on NBA bets that lose even when your team scores 100 points.
Any good sportsbook - and most Pennsylvania sportsbooks deserve that label - has a good mix of odds boosters and special sports plays.
Whether you are accessing an online sportsbook through its website or a mobile app, signing up for your new account is easy and straightforward. The information required for registration is:
You will choose your username and password at the time of registration. If there are any problems confirming your identification through your address and social security number, you may be asked to submit additional documentation, such as a utility bill in your name.
You will not usually need to provide photo ID unless the operator has trouble verifying your identity using the other informnation provided.
One of the most important aspects of an online sportsbook platform is how it deals with banking. Not only do you want deposits and withdrawals to be fast, but you will also benefit from having several options to choose from.
Not all sportsbooks will offer a prepaid card, so be sure to check which sportsbooks do. Additionally, even though all of the electronic wallet options are available in Pennsylvania - PayPal, Skrill, etc. - not all sportsbooks accept every one of them.
Ideally, you will have used a method of deposit that can be reversed for easy withdrawal. If that isn’t the case, most sportsbooks will allow you to use another means of account withdrawal, such as:
Having a personal check sent to you in the mail will result in a delay of several days to accomodate additional processing and transit. Withdrawing funds via PayPal, on the other hand, or in cash from the operator's land-based sportsbook, would keep delays to a minimum.
Yes, sports betting in Pennsylvania is legal. This applies to land-based sportsbooks and also to online sportsbooks. However, it is only legal to bet with a sportsbook that is regulated by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
If you are 21 years old and inside the state lines, you can place legal sports wagers.
Being a PA resident is not required, but you do need to be physically located within the state when you place bets with PA sportsbooks.
Sports betting is now legal, but only if it’s regulated and licensed by Pennsylvania officials. Legal sports betting does not mean that everyone can make and take sports bets.
Only land-based casinos or their online partners who have applied for and been granted a license can legally offer sports betting.
This doesn’t mean your office NFL survivor pool is going to become the target of a sting operation, but it’s not protected by the law either.
Yes, and you must declare your sports winnings to the IRS when filling out your yearly tax return.
That said, sports gambling specific taxes are paid by the sportsbook operator. The 36% tax rate that was levied on sports betting is not the customer’s responsibility.
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