Pennsylvania was one of the first states to launch legalised sports betting when PASPA was repealed. Indeed, the state had already put sports betting legislation into place by 2017, anticipating that PASPA would be overturned eventually.
Whilst it wasn’t a smooth start with lawmakers battling over tax rates, licensing fees and other aspects of the gambling expansion bill, sports betting ultimately launched in November 2018, when the first legal wagers were placed at Penn National Racecourse.
Top PA Online Sportsbooks 2022
Best PA mobile sports betting apps
Right now, PA has 14 live mobile sports betting apps that you can choose from. Each app has its strengths and weaknesses, and it comes down to personal preference and your needs as a punter when choosing the app you want to sign up to.
Easily some of the best apps for most purposes are DraftKings and FanDuel. There is little to fault here and not only do you get interesting in-app features, a great selection of sports and events but also DFS and online gambling with both of them.
But the PA sports betting scene is unique in many ways, and we have a few other apps we want to point out to you.
This is especially interesting as the Parx Casino is local and has been around for some time. The sportsbook is operated by Kambi, a one of the best international betting providers. Parx offers an excellent selection of sports to bet on and they manage to do so with an attractive and user-friendly interface. New customers can look forward to a $500 risk-free bet upon signing up.
Unibet is less well-known in the US, but one of the biggest international sportsbooks in the world. In PA they partnered with Mohegan Sun to offer their excellent sports betting. You’ll find a great range of sports and markets here, regular promotions and some of the best soccer betting in the world. They also offer live streaming for many big events as well as consistently competitive odds.
BetMGM was not among the first apps to launch in PA, but they are no less successful than the competition. They have partnered with Hollywood Casino Morgantown, where you can enjoy excellent betting for all major leagues and as well as regular odds boosts. You can even get overtime insurance here. We also appreciate that their app is easy to use.
SugarHouse (now BetRivers Philadelphia)
Surprisingly, the first online betting site to accept wagers in PA was SugarHouse. They had already been live in New Jersey and were able to draw from experiences there. They have partnered with Rivers Philadelphia to offer their services in PA, offering plenty of national and international sports. In late 2019, SugarHouse transitioned to become Rivers Philadelphia on all platforms.
BetAmerica has partnered with Presque Isle Down and it particularly well-known for their big promotions. One of their unique features is the ability for bettors to buy or sell points for many games offered at BetAmerica. Customers also find their in-depth stats incredibly useful, which not all betting sites offer to such an extent.
History of betting and online sports betting in PA
Let’s take a look at how sports betting became legal in the Keystone State. Historically, betting played no role in Pennsylvania. With strong puritan origins, most Pennsylvanians frowned upon all things gambling.
In 1971, however, a state lottery was established, which was set to raise funds for property tax relief for people 65 and older in PA. The lottery was also intended to curb illegal gambling activities within the state.
Whilst there were several pushes to legalise casinos in the 1980s and 1990s, Pennsylvanians apparently looked at Nevada and everything that was negative about gambling, firmly rejecting any notion to have casinos open within the state.
It took until 2004 for Act 71 to be passed, which established the PGCB and legalised casinos and racetracks (horse racing had already been legal since 1959). With a new generation of Pennsylvanians becoming more accepting of gambling, the way was paved. All problematic aspects aside, it was recognised that the considerable revenue produced by seven casinos and four racetracks would be beneficial for the state, especially since the proceeds were slated to fund public projects.
In 2015, first legalisation efforts for sports betting were pushed, though the bill sponsored by Rep. Rick Kotik and Rob Matzie failed.
Only two years later, however, in 2017, PA legalised online casinos, online poker and sports betting, which was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf in October that year. The expected revenue from licensing fees and taxes was meant to aid with the crushing debt the state was suffering at the time.
Before sports betting could launch, PASPA had to first be overturned, which happened in May 2018.
The already existing sports betting and gambling laws in PA meant that the launch of sports betting wouldn’t meet any major obstacles.
However, the one-time licensing fee for casinos and racetracks to apply for sports betting was set at a steep $10 million and the sports betting revenue is subject to a tax rate of 36%, which is one of the highest in the US.
Whilst most casinos submitted the licensing applications just about as soon as PASPA was overturned, the first retail bets were placed in November 2018 and it took until May 2019 for online sports betting to launch as well.
Future of sports betting in PA
In Pennsylvania, all land-based casinos and racetracks are able to apply for online sportsbook licenses, allowing for one skin per casino or racetrack.
Right now, PA has 14 mobile betting apps that are live and legal. There is potentially room for more, but the previously mentioned high licensing fee and tax rates are making entry into the market more difficult than elsewhere, especially for smaller sportsbooks.
That said, PA’s market is very competitive and also very attractive given that Pennsylvania is the 5th most populous state, offering not just several professional franchises but also a large college sports betting market. Since betting on college sports is legal in PA (with the exception of player prop bets), the sports betting handle just keeps on growing.
On top of that, online casino gambling and online poker are also legal in Pennsylvania, which means there isn’t much more room to expand.
If sports betting in the Keystone state would falter at any point, lawmakers might have to rethink their 36% tax rate, but since that hasn’t stopped online bookmakers to partner with local casinos, the future of sports betting and gambling in PA continues to look very profitable indeed.
How to get started in PA with a sportsbook or mobile betting app
Given how diverse the market in PA is, you have plenty of mobile betting apps to choose from. We have already established that you get a great selection of betting apps here and finding the one which suits your needs best is going to be the biggest challenge.
You can always register and try out several betting apps before deciding which one is best for you.
Either way, the sign-up process is similar for all apps.
- Download and install the betting app to your mobile device
- Launch the app and click on the “Sign up” or “Register” button
- Fill in all your details (address, email address, user name, age, last four digits of your SN, etc.) – the legal age in PA for sports betting is 21
- Submit your information and confirm your email address
- Once your account is activated
- Now you can make your first deposit
- Claim the welcome bonus in the same step (be sure to use the required code if there is one)
- Start browsing your favourite sports to find your teams and betting options to start betting
This is usually done in a matter of minutes, though you should also be aware that you will need to verify your location. Most sportsbooks will give you a recommendation which geo-location app to install so that your location within MI borders can be ascertained.
Finally, only register an account at licensed betting apps in MI as they are the safest option for you.
What sports can you place wagers on in PA?
With eight professional franchises and over a dozen large and small college sports programs, there is no shortage of sports to bet on in the Keystone state.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the most popular NFL franchises with six championship titles to date and regular appearances during the play-offs. Whilst there have been ups and downs in recent years, fans continue to favour the Steelers.
The Philadelphia Eagles managed to win the Super Bowl in monumental fashion in 2018, which was also their first and only one as they have had middling success since then. But fans just love their Eagles, belting out ‘Fly Eagles Fly’ after every score.
The Philadelphia 76ers have a long history, which has seen its share of successes though only three championships. Since 2020 the Sixers have had the strongest team in many years, but they have not yet been able to get another championship.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have been around since 1881, though they have only been known as the Pirates since 1891. The played in the first World Series ever but have never been among the successful franchises. Indeed, whilst their fans continue to support them, the Pirates have had more downs than ups.
The Philadelphia Phillies also look back on a long history, having been around since 1883. They have won two world series, in 1980 and 2008. Their fans look proudly on the long history of the team, but they are not among the top teams in the league.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are a team worth the support of their fans with already five Stanley Cup titles. It is another PA team with a long history that can count on a lot of fan support.
The Philadelphia Flyers have also won two Stanley Cups, though that was in 1974 and 1975, meaning their success story is one of the past. Most of their fans don’t even remember this, but the Flyers are one of the more competitive games and always a good bet.
As mentioned above, there are over a dozen larger and smaller college sports programs in PA. The Penn State Nittany Lions are one of the most prestigious teams in college football. The Pittsburgh Panthers can also look back on nine national championships, though all of them happened before WWII. They still feature among the top 20 of all time in wins.
The Temple Owls are nowhere near as successful but have at least claimed two conference titles.
The Villanova Wildcats are one of the most successful college basketball teams, having won the national championship in 2016, making them one of the teams to consider for your betting.
Lots of college football betting is available in PA, which we have barely covered here.
PA Sports Betting FAQ
No, but it is important that you are located within PA borders when registering an account or when using the sportsbook app. You will be required to download a geo-location app to verify your location as well. And you must be 21 years or older to sign up to sportsbook.
All operators pay 36% in taxes on their gross sports betting revenue. That’s among the highest in the US, but plenty of operators have opted to pay it anyway.
Yes, it is. Online gambling and online poker have both been legalised in the gambling expansion bill in 2017. Pennsylvania was one of the first states to expand gambling outside of Vegas and New Jersey in this manner.
Yes, there is nothing stopping you from doing so. But since these books are not legal or regulated, signing up and betting here is not safe and strongly discouraged.
Yes. DFS was also legalised with the gambling expansion bill in 2017.