The Pennsylvania sportsbook regulated industry tripled in size last week, after the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh and SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia accepted their first legal wagers.
The pair of properties, both owned by Rush Street Interactive, held simultaneous soft launch test phases over two days beginning on Thursday, December 13. To kick things off at SugarHouse Casino, general manager Cheryl Duhon offered the following encouragement to eager bettors:
“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!”
From there, one of the first customers on hand parted ways by betting $100 on the Los Angeles Rams as (-11.5) favorites over the Philadelphia Eagles. That Pennsylvania sportsbook wager wound up a loser when last year’s Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles led the hometown team to a 30-23 road victory.
After observers from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) signed off on both soft launch periods, the Rivers and SugarHouse sportsbooks officially opened to the public on Satuday, December 15. As both facilities are serviced by European bookmaker Kambi – which also works with the SugarHouse online sportsbook platform in New Jersey – the point spreads and odds at either Pennsylvania sportsbook site are identical.
The Keystone State legalized sports betting as part of a gambling expansion bill passed in late 2017, preceding a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in May that rescinded a federal ban on sportsbooks outside of Nevada. But after a series of regulatory delays, seven months passed before Pennsylvania’s first legal sportsbook went live within the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course – marking the sixth state to do so since the Court ruling.
The Rivers Sportsbook opened for business at 9 a.m. local time on Saturday morning, making it the second in the state to go live.
Bill Keena – who serves as general manager of Rivers Casino – celebrated the successful launch in a press release:
“We’ve had a great reaction from our guests and the community to our soft launch, and we’re very excited to begin daily operations.
Many, many people have collaborated to make Rivers Sportsbook a reality, and we thank each and every one of them.”
The current Rivers Sportsbook facility is temporary until a larger permanent venue, currently under construction, is completed. Even so, Pennsylvania sportsbook bettors will still find a 3,000-square foot space with seating for 98 guests, along with a 14’ x 7’ LED video wall and 15 smaller flat-screen HD monitors.
At 10 a.m. local time, the SugarHouse Sportsbook became the third such establishment to go live in Pennsylvania.
It also became the first legal sportsbook available in the state’s largest city of Philadelphia, a fact Duhon commemorated in her public comments:
“We’re thrilled to make Philly history as the city’s first licensed sportsbook.
If our soft launch was any indication, there’s a big demand among Philly sports fans and gamers to get in on the action.”
Like its sister Pennsylvania sportsbook at Rivers Casino, the current SugarHouse venue is temporary, but still boasts seating for 70 guests, a 14’ x 7’ LED video wall, and 12 more HD flat-screens.
Asked about the eventual launch of online / mobile wagering via SugarHouse Sportsbook, Duhon told Legal Sports Report that bettors can expect internet access sometime in 2019:
“We put all of our resources into getting the land-based launched.
Once we let the dust settle, soon we will be able to focus on both. Most of it will be based on the timing and testing.
Hopefully, sometime before (the) middle of next year.”