Harrah’s Set to Join Pennsylvania Rivals with Online Sports Betting, Ready for NFL Action

Posted on: July 29, 2019, 11:26h. 

Last updated on: July 29, 2019, 12:48h.

Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack expects to have its online sports wagering platform ready in August in advance of the start of football season.

Harrah’s Philadelphia expects to have online sports betting ready for football season. (Image: Visit Philly)

In May, the first online sports bet was booked in the Keystone State through a platform offered by SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia. SugarHouse, which will change its name to Rivers Casino Philadelphia this fall, was followed by the Rivers and Parx sportsbooks in offering internet and mobile sports wagering in Pennsylvania in June with FanDuel joining the fray earlier this month.

Harrah’s Philadelphia, operated by Caesars Entertainment, opened a brick-and-mortar sportsbook earlier this year and an executive there believes online sports betting will be ready in advance of football season.

It’s always been about that magical date of getting things up and running before football season, so we expect to launch online sometime in August,” said Harrah’s Philadelphia Senior Vice President & General Manager Chris Albrecht in an interview with MetroBet.

Albrecht didn’t pinpoint a date for the launch of Harrah’s mobile sports betting offerings. The first batch of college football games will be played on Saturday, Aug. 24 and the NFL starts the 2019 season on Thursday, Sept. 5.

Regional Competition

Gaming companies doing business in Pennsylvania are moving into online sports betting at a time of increasing competition, both brick-and-mortar and mobile, from neighboring states. Currently, four of the six states that border the Keystone State permit some form of sports betting with Ohio and Maryland being the exceptions.

The only other states that share a border while featuring sports wagering at casinos are Arkansas and Mississippi, but that group could grow if Oregon gets its betting platform ready this year. Southeastern Oregon abuts part of Northern Nevada.

Sports betting, online and mobile in particular, has been a boon for New Jersey, a Pennsylvania neighbor. In May, the Garden State’s sports handle eked ahead of Nevada’s and mobile was a big reason why. In May, 82.6 percent of sports bets placed in New Jersey were on mobile devices, slightly ahead of the 2019 rate of 80.6 percent.

Albrecht thinks it will be a while before neighboring states with sports betting offerings start cannibalizing each other.

“It’s just growing in a whole new market,” he said to MetroBet. “Maybe some of these states that abut each other might cut into one another a little bit so it will be interesting to see how much Pennsylvania and New Jersey cut into one another – but I think for a few years we’ll all just be in growth mode.”

Caesars Entertainment, Harrah’s parent company, operates three casinos in Atlantic City and is one of the dominant operators in New Jersey’s mobile gaming market.

Pennsylvania Push

Pennsylvania is home to nine retail sportsbooks, a number that is likely to grow in the future, according to Play Pennsylvania. Six of those locations are near the City of Brotherly Love, the state’s largest metropolitan area. But some Pennsylvanians may not live near a brick-and-mortar sportsbook, meaning online is their best bet.

The state is the sixth-largest in the US with 12.7 million residents, representing potentially fertile ground for sportsbook operators. From November 2018 through June 2019, the state generated $7.8 million in tax revenue from sports gambling, according to data from Play Pennsylvania.