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Pennsylvania Continues Gambling Expansion with Major Additions to Legal Gambling Sector

It has been an eventful year for the state of Pennsylvania. Gambling expansion, which has been in the state authorities’ agenda over the last few years, remains on track, with the long-awaited addition of sports betting operations to the Pennsylvania gambling sector.

The decision of the US Supreme Court to lift the ban imposed on sports betting services by the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) provided the local lawmakers with the opportunity to finally greenlight the new form of gambling. Apart from adding sports betting to the local legal gambling market, state authorities followed their plans to see further expansion to the existing sector, by giving the nod to online gambling and more mini-casinos.

The need of filling in the gap in the state budget has remained in 2018, and sports betting has been a good way for the state to try to compensate for the deficit. At the time when sports betting was greenlighted by the US Supreme Court, there were 12 casino developers in operation in the state.

Currently, gambling expansion is in full swing in the state of Pennsylvania, after state legislators legalized online gambling by passing a bill in 2017. The gambling expansion brought to state’s coffers more than $385 million, exceeding the preliminary expectations of some market analysts. A large portion of this revenue was accumulated through taxes. Casino licensing brought approximately $94 million to the state, while mini-casino auction profits generated $128 million. Daily fantasy sports (DFS) generated an overall tax revenue of $1.4 million only.

Online Gambling and New Satellite Casinos

As mentioned above, in September, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board granted further permissions for online gaming, providing another casino operator – Rush Street Gaming – with an online gambling license, along with the Penn National Gaming group’s Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association.

Rush Street Gaming was the first one of the two aforementioned operators to receive a permission to manage the full range of online gambling offerings in the state of Pennsylvania. Then, Mountain View got the second permission in association with Penn National, to offer a full range of online gambling services at the Hollywood Casino.

Apart from that, it also became clear that Penn National had also filed in an application for a mini casino in York Galleria Mall and had been considering an appropriate location for its second satellite casino in the state. The operator confirmed that it has chosen the southern area of Berks County as a spot for a satellite casino facility.

Pennsylvania Adds Legal Sports Betting Operations

The ruling of the US Supreme Court in favor of the state of New Jersey in the latter’s sports betting case brought lifted the federal ban imposed on this type of gambling by the PASPA. Following the decision, Pennsylvania became one of the first US states which started offering legal sports wagering, with the first sports bet placed at the Penn National Race Course-located Hollywood Casino in mid-November.

The Hollywood Casino became the first facility in the state of Pennsylvania to start taking bets on sporting events in the state. The casino’s sportsbook is currently run by William Hill USA and offers a variety of bets to place on sports events.

The State Gaming Board has also provided a number of other casinos, including Bensalem’s Parx Casino, Chester-based Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack, Pittsburgh’s Rivers Casino, etc. with approvals, too. At the time it was also announced that a temporary sports betting parlor was set to start operation at the beginning of December at the Rivers Casino, which has previously unveiled a permanent sports betting lounge project which is hoped to be finalized by the spring of 2019.

Mid-December also saw further expansion of Pennsylvania’s sports betting market, as two more casinos were announced to start offering legal sports betting services. Pittsburgh-based Rivers Casino and Philadelphia-based SugarHouse Casino have started test periods, with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board saying at the time that casinos would be able to start offering sports betting on December 15th, if all tests went well.

Pennsylvania Continued Gambling Expansion with VGTs Introduction

At the beginning of December, York County became part of the gambling expansion of the state, after several stores from the Rutter’s chain filed in applications for licenses under which they will be allowed to operate video gaming terminals (VGTs). The maximum number of VGTs which would be permitted for each store to operate is five.

A spokesperson of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board revealed at the time that the state’s gambling regulator had greenlighted as many as 23 truck-stop locations in the state, with the launch of the machines expected to happen no sooner than the first quarter of 2019. The Gaming Control Board first needs to make an inspection of the locations on site so that the licensing applications are verified.

Video gaming terminals are pretty similar to slot machines. Currently, the maximum bet which they take is restricted to around $5, and the largest payout which a customer can get is limited to $1,000. In theory, the average return of machines will be the same as the one of the slot terminals, with the state of Pennsylvania set to collect more than half of the total revenue generated by the VGTs. Reportedly, about 42% are to be redirected to the state’s General Fund.

 Author: Hannah Wallace

Hannah Wallace has been part of our team since the website was launched. She has a master’s degree in IT.