The Pennsylvania online gambling scene is thriving. In the last two years, the state has adopted some of the most liberal gaming laws in the nation. This has made almost every type of online gambling in Pennsylvania as legal as it gets.
In this guide, we will give you an overview of what’s available. You’ll learn something about the history of online gambling in Pennsylvania and what the rules are. We’ll then tell you all about the online sportsbooks, casinos, and poker rooms that are open for business.
Pennsylvania supports and promotes responsible gambling.
Gambling is legal in Pennsylvania, but only through a licensed and regulated operator. It is still illegal for individuals to engage in real-money poker or sports and casino wagering outside of these regulations. That applies to both offline and online gambling.
Two of the laws that are most relevant to Pennsylvania online gambling are:
That last act was passed in October 2017. It was the final stage in making the big three of gambling - sports, poker, and casino games - legal in Pennsylvania. This Act also allowed for the regulation of daily fantasy sports in the state.
The history of gambling in Pennsylvania is rich, and so we will discuss it later in relation to online casinos, sportsbooks, and poker rooms.
The powers that be in Pennsylvania did a great job in anticipating the legalization of sports betting that is now spreading across the country. In 2015, Pennsylvania legislators began working on setting their own sports betting laws. This was a full three years before the Supreme Court overturned the law forbidding states from setting their own sports betting laws.
Legislative bill H 1627 was introduced to repeal the state's ban on sports gaming, and by 2017 it passed. The Governor had signed a new law that would legalize sports betting throughout the state, dependent of course on the federal ban also being repealed by SCOTUS.
That happened in 2018. By 2019, Pennsylvania was fully up and running with legalized online sports betting. The state got a head start thanks to the time they had saved by getting things started three years before the Supreme Court's action. Pennsylvania now takes in more sports bets than all other states except Nevada.
Pennsylvania was quick to roll out retail sports betting but took a little time to make sure that its online and mobile offerings were up to standards. The state made every website and mobile app go through a lengthy petition period and pass a series of quality control tests before they would be approved.
This significantly lowered problems at launch and made the customer experience that much better in the early days of operation.
The very first online sports betting site launched in May 2019, when PlaySugarHouse went live. Eight other sportsbooks have followed since that time:
With PlaySugarHouse as the first, that makes a total of nine legal and regulated Pennsylvania sportsbooks. At least three other retail sportsbook locations are expected to launch their own online and mobile operations at some point in the future.
It is worth noting that not all mobile sportsbooks in the state are available on iOS, and it's possible a separate locator app will be required for online access.
Unlike many of its neighbors, Pennsylvania does allow betting on all college sports that involve local colleges and universities and take place in the state. This means that you will always be able to place bets on Penn State football, or any NCAA tournaments based in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania online gambling laws do not permit betting on high school sports or esports. This is something of a nationwide standard. You also can't place bets on any non-sporting events, such as the Academy Awards or election results. If it's not a casino game or a sport, it's not for the Keystone State.
The types of wagers that you can place on those sporting events are also in line with the standards being set across the country. Pennsylvania online gambling sites offer the following wager types:
The moneyline bet is a straight win/loss bet with different odds for the favorite and the underdog.
Instead of odds, these bets use a point spread to separate the favorite and underdog.
Also known as an over/under bet, this is a bet on the total combined points for both teams, and you take either over or under the posted line.
A series of small bets combined into one large bet. If each bet wins, the main bet wins big. But if just one bet loses, the entire parlay is lost.
Similar to a parlay in that it combines several possible outcomes, a Round Robins pay out on each winning combination as well as the entire bet.
With teaser bets, players can change the point spreads by taking smaller payouts. These are most commonly used on football bets.
Proposition bets are bets that take place inside regular gameplay. They can involve team props, like the first team to score, or individual props, such as which quarterback will finish with the most passing yards.
These are bets on events that have yet to happen. For example, betting on the winner of next year's Super Bowl or NCAA Tournament.
Also called in-play betting, live betting allows you to place bets on sporting events that are already in progress. There are quarter and halftime bets, buyout options, and the odds and points spreads are constantly changing as the game itself changes.
The first serious effort to make casino gambling legal in Pennsylvania came in the early 1980s. That was when the resorts in the Poconos began thinking of ways to stimulate business. Unfortunately, a prevalent stereotype at that time, of casinos equalling a rise in organized crime, killed the idea.
Legalized gambling advocates tried again in the early 1990s, this time targeting riverboats. But again, the public's fears about crime sunk the proposal and killed all legalization momentum. Advocates tried to revive the momentum in 1999, but without success.
Finally, the perseverance of the legalization effort began to have its successes:
Nearly 40 years after the effort to bring legalized gambling to Pennsylvania first began, the job was completed.
It has never been cheap to own an online casino in Pennsylvania. Each application for a full license cost $10 million. This covered poker, table games, and slot machines. There were also single product licenses - for poker, table games, or slots - at $4 million per offering.
In addition, the tax rates in Pennsylvania are considerably higher than in the neighboring state of New Jersey.
Pessimists thought that these high prices and tax rates would keep operators away. Luckily for the customers in the state, they were wrong.
Since July 2019, the following online and mobile casinos have opened and are operating in Pennsylvania.
|FOX Bet Casino|
|Hollywood Online Casino|
|Parx Online Casino|
There are some other licenses that have been sold but not yet launched, so the overall number of online casinos operating in Pennsylvania still has plenty of room to grow. No matter what your tastes are, there is undoubtedly an online casino in the Keystone State that you will enjoy.
Pennsylvania customers have a wide variety of casino game options to choose from. At online casinos in Pennsylvania, you can play:
Most Pennsylvania online casinos offer variations of Blackjack, including Spanish 21. Roulette offerings include American and European varieties. Video Poker options include the Game King suite of games, including Deuces Wild, Double Poker, and Jacks or Better.
As the industry continues to grow, so will the range of available games.
There are seven license holders that can legally offer online poker in Pennsylvania, but so far, only Mount Airy Casino - through its partnership with PokerStars - has taken advantage of that license.
This means that the options for live online poker in Pennsylvania are currently limited to a single operator - PokerStars.
WSOP.com is the next most likely poker operator to open up operations in the state, with its land-based partner being Harrah's Philadelphia.
Whether you are looking to join an online casino or a mobile sportsbook, setting up a new account for online gambling in Pennsylvania is quick, easy, and secure.
The basic information that you will need to provide is:
As you set up your account, you will also be given a variety of security options. These are likely to include security questions that you can use to recover a forgotten password.
You may also be able to set up two-factor authentication. This will send a PIN to your mobile each time you attempt to log in to your account. Enter the PIN and the venue will know that the login is genuine.
Each of the gambling entities in Pennsylvania will have its own specific options available for deposits and withdrawals. But generally speaking, these will be your main choices when putting funds into your account.
A couple of things to note:
The fastest and most secure way to make your deposits is via Online bill pay. This is the method preferred by online casinos and sportsbooks. You are the only person who ever sees an account number or has access to the attached account, helping to reduce the chances for fraud.
Some credit card companies treat payments to a gambling business like a cash advance, so you may be charged an extra fee. Always double-check with your credit card company before making a deposit. This will also help avoid a possible hold on the card and a flag for suspicious activity.
All sportsbooks and online casinos in Pennsylvania are connected to land-based casinos. You therefore also have the option of going directly to the casino and funding your online account with a cash payment.
Withdrawal options are usually a reversal of your method of deposit. If this isn't possible, withdrawals will be sent by eCheck or personal check. The latter will take longer for processing.
Online gambling is legal in Pennsylvania for those aged 21 or over who are physically located within the state.
It is not necessary to be a resident of Pennsylvania to bet online, but you do need to be in the state when doing so. Operators will determine your location using your IP address and/or geolocation data from your cell phone.
Online sportsbooks, online casinos and online poker rooms are all legal in Pennsylvania.
Yes. All internet gambling sites must employ software that will prevent access to anyone that has placed themselves on the PGCB’s self-exclusion list.
The self-exclusion list is for anyone who feels that they have problems with gambling and would therefore prefer not to have access to online gambling sites. Self-exclusions can last from one year to five years, depending on the request made.
Yes. All licensed internet gambling sites are strictly regulated so that they are as safe and secure as possible.
Even so, there are a couple of things that players can do to make tighten their own safety and security measures.
First, only wager on sites that display the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board seal and an iGaming license number. You will find these at the bottom of the webpage. If you do not see the PGCB seal, then the site is not operating legally.
Second, while all of these sites heavily invest in top-quality security, if you access them through a public wi-fi connection, you potentially open yourself up to hackers. Even when the site remains secure, a public wi-fi connection can expose your account credentials and any credit card and bank account information attached to your account. For this reason, always use a closed wi-fi or mobile connection when gambling online.
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