More than a year after passing legislation, the Keystone State became the seventh to accept wagers when the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course sportsbook opened sports betting in Pennsylvania to the public over the weekend.
The sportsbook – owned by Penn National Gaming and operated by William Hill U.S. – held a “live wagering test day” last Thursday. After further testing of staff, equipment, and internal procedures took place on Friday, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) granted regulatory approval.
Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course officially opened its sportsbook at 10 a.m. Saturday morning, accepting a $20 wager on the Pittsburgh Steelers to win Super Bowl 53.
The state passed a sprawling package of gambling expansion legislation in October of last year setting up sports betting in Pennsylvania, with sections of the bill authorizing single-game sports wagers contingent on repeal of a federal ban. Under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992, sportsbooks were banned in every state except for Nevada, but a 6-3 ruling issued by the U.S. Supreme Court in May of this year found the prohibition to be unconstitutional.
The Keystone State becomes the sixth – joining Delaware, New Jersey, West Virginia, Mississippi, and New Mexico – to offer legal sports betting since the PASPA was repealed.
Thus far, six of the 13 licensed casino operators in Pennsylvania have applied with the PGCB for sports betting licensure – with Harrah’s Philadelphia, Parx Casino, Rivers Casino Pittsburgh, SugarHouse Casino, and Valley Forge Casino Resort joining Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.
Located in the town of Grantville, approximately 100 miles northeast of Philadelphia, the sportsbook at Penn National Race Course is the fourth to open within a Hollywood Casino property.
Penn National Gaming – a casino conglomerate based in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania with more than 40 venues nationwide – positions Hollywood Casino as its centerpiece brand with 16 properties coast to coast.
Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races opened the first legal sportsbook in West Virginia on August 30. And while Penn National Gaming wasn’t the first to go live in Mississippi, the company operates five sportsbooks in the state, including Hollywood Casino locations at the Gulf Coast and Biloxi.
Timothy Wilmott – who serves as chief executive officer for Penn National Gaming – issued a statement celebrating the company’s status as first mover in a market the Eilers & Krejcik Gaming research firm recently estimated will generate $12 billion in handle annually:
“Penn National is excited to be the first casino to offer sports wagering in Pennsylvania.
The enthusiasm around sports betting has been growing since the federal ban was repealed in May, and we look forward to providing our patrons with another great amenity to enjoy at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.”
Dan Ihm – general manager of the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course – offered his thanks to state regulators for ushering in a new era in Pennsylvania gambling:
“We are extremely appreciative for the tireless effort and support of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
They moved heaven and earth to get us to this point and we couldn’t be more excited to be Pennsylvania’s first sportsbook.”
With the race now on to secure PGCB approval and open sportsbook doors, Rush Street Gaming and Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment appear to share the inside track on sports betting in Pennsylvania.
Rush Street Gaming operates the Sugarhouse Casino in downtown Philadelphia and Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, both of which are slated to launch sports betting on December 1.
Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment operates the Parx Casino in Bensalem, where a $10 million sportsbook facility is scheduled to open in April of 2019.
But temporary betting windows and kiosks are in the works at Parx Casino, and per senior vice president of sports and interactive Matt Cullen, wagers will be accepted as soon as possible:
“We don’t know the exact start date, we’re hoping it’s going to be the end of November, maybe the beginning of December.
The gaming board has told us, essentially, ‘When you’re ready, you can go live,’ once we have their blessing.
So we’re working toward that, feverishly.”