Pennsylvania Sports Betting Licenses Issued for Hollywood, Parx Casinos

Posted on: October 4, 2018, 10:45h. 

Last updated on: October 4, 2018, 10:51h.

Two sports betting licenses have been granted in Pennsylvania, but Keystone State residents won’t be gambling on the Eagles and Steelers for at least several more weeks.

sports betting Pennsylvania casinos
Sports betting is on its way to Pennsylvania, but it might not come in time for residents to bet on the state’s two NFL franchises, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles, during the regular season. (Image: USA TODAY Sports)

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) signed off on applications from Penn National’s Hollywood Casino near the Harrisburg capital in Grantville, and Greenwood Gaming’s Parx Casino in Bensalem, which is just outside Philadelphia.

The two casino operators have 60 days to pay the $10 million fee to facilitate sports betting. Officials for Parx and Penn National said operations won’t be up and running until renovations to build sportsbooks are completed.

Three other Pennsylvania casinos, two in the Philly region (Harrah’s and SugarHouse), and Rivers in Pittsburgh, have applied for sports betting permits. The PGCB is expected to consider those requests at its October 31 meeting.

Justifying Fee, Tax

Pennsylvania authorized sports betting under its massive gambling expansion package signed last fall by Governor Tom Wolf (D). But the $10 million, and accompanying effective tax rate of 36 percent, has been seen as exorbitant.

Lobbyists working on behalf of the gaming industry in Pennsylvania have been pushing for state regulators to modify the tax. However, to date, there’s been no evidence to suggest they might do so.

In the meantime, it appears at least five of the state’s 13 licensed commercial casino operators still believe they can make a buck under the present regulations.

Parx Casino is doing away with its 360 Lounge to make room for a sportsbook. The facility will feature 12 self-service kiosks and seven betting windows stationed with employees. Representatives for the venue say numerous 75-inch televisions will air various live sporting events.

Penn National is turning its simulcast horse racing theater into a sportsbook. The 5,000-square-foot space will feature a 110-inch HD video wall, six self-service kiosks, and six betting windows.

Additional Sites, Online

Sports betting is a slim-margin business, which is why the 36 percent tax will greatly challenge oddsmakers in Pennsylvania to turn a profit. By comparison, Nevada taxes gross sports betting revenue at just 6.75 percent.

Penn National and Parx won’t only be offering sports betting at its two primary casinos, but additional locations in the state.

Penn National secured rights to two mini-casinos that were authorized in the gambling legislation. The company recently revealed it wants to build its satellite gaming venue earmarked for York County in a local mall. Penn will additionally soon present the PGCB with plans for its other mini casino, which will be in Lancaster County.

Penn National could also potentially bring sports betting to its two off-track wagering facilities in York and Lancaster.

Parx won the fourth satellite auction, and selected Cumberland County west of Harrisburg. Parx says it will also bring sports betting to its South Philadelphia Turf Club off-track wagering venue, and will spend $1 million to create a sportsbook there.

Finally, both casino operators say they hope to take mobile wagers from gamblers inside state lines in 2019.