SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia welcomed its first legal sports wager this past Saturday with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony that attracted a crowd of eager punters. Democratic politician and City Council member Mark Squilla had the honor of placing the first official sports wager on the premises, betting $20 on an NFL game between Philadelphia’s Eagles and the Los Angeles Rams.
Councilman Squilla commented that the introduction of sports betting in the SugarHouse Casino will result in a number of benefits for the local community. Squilla is hopeful this would help reduce the rates of illegal wagering on sports and instill a sense of security in punters. Additionally, the new retail sportsbook will help generate more revenue for the city of Philadelphia through taxes as local sports betting fans will no longer have to travel to other states to make their punts.
Local Punters Embrace the Convenience of Having a Legal Sportsbook
Many punters who attended the official opening ceremony expressed their delight at the convenience of being able to place their bets at the local sportsbook. Some of the attendees shared they used to travel to the neighboring states of New Jersey and Delaware to bet on sporting events. Many of the locals embrace the prospect of saving on travel expenses and tolls.
The SugarHouse is currently one of three legal sports betting sites in the state of Pennsylvania, along with its sister Rivers Casino and the Hollywood Casino, located at the Penn National Race Course in the town of Grantville. The latter led the sports betting expansion in Pennsylvania when it opened doors to customers in November, becoming the first landbased establishment to accept legal sports bets in the state.
Although the official opening ceremony took place this Saturday, punters have been flocking to the SugarHouse since the soft launch of the new sportsbook on Thursday. Last Thursday marked the start of a two-day testing period, during which the operations of the retail sportsbook were overseen by the state’s Gaming Control Board.
The management of the SugarHouse Casino is hopeful the steady flow of customers they have witnessed during the testing period is a good sign. The casino’s Vice President, Evan Davis, believes the new sportsbook will become an important part of the venue’s business.
Another reason for the optimistic expectations has to do with New Jersey’s sports betting generating over $73 million in revenue since it was legalized this past June. These numbers may look impressive but one also needs to take into account the hefty fees sports betting operators in Pennsylvania must contribute to the state’s coffers.
Sportsbooks must pay $10 million for their licenses alone. In addition, the operators are taxed at a 36% rate of their overall sports betting revenue. These figures are the highest in the United States, with New Jersey paying four times less in licensing fees and revenue taxes.
Nevertheless, the General Manager of Philadelphia’s SugarHouse, Cheryl Duhon, is confident that the casino will overcome the hefty fees by shifting its focus to bringing in new customers via its sports betting offering.