The day has arrived. Sort of. PA online sports betting will enter a testing period today at 4 p.m., with SugarHouse Sportsbook soft-launching their online betting options in Pennsylvania.

The three-day trial period will give the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board time to test the app for compliance and bugs. It will be available to a small number of users during a limited number of hours until the state gives the go ahead for a full public launch later this week.


SugarHouse Sportsbook

All along, we believed SugarHouse Sportsbook would be among the first to market in PA. Parent company Rush Street was second to launch the brand in New Jersey, and the fact that they hold two PA gaming licenses with SugarHouse and Rivers casinos made them a good bet to launch first in PA.

SugarHouse’s PA Sportsbook will be available through a web-based interface and eventually the iOS App Store.


Problems with Apple

We were first to report last week that SugarHouse was having some trouble getting the PA version of its app (yes, it will be a different app) into the iOS App Store – thanks to Apple’s approval process – and that they planned to launch with just a web-based version. Google Play already blocks gambling apps, so all legal online casinos and sportsbooks are available as a direct download on Android.

A quick check of the iOS App Store shows that SugarHouse Sportsbook PA is not live yet.


A longtime coming

When the Supreme Court overturned a 1992 decision that effectively made sports betting illegal in all states but Nevada last year, Pennsylvania already had a bill passed and in place to legalize sports betting. They vowed to move quickly, with state regulator Susan Hensel telling the East Coast Gaming Congress in June that retail betting would be live before football season and online betting would go live by the end of the year.

Both of those targets were missed as the first sportsbook didn’t open in Pennsylvania until December. Online betting lagged even further behind, missing the Super Bowl, March Madness, Masters and Kentucky Derby.

But with the full launch of online sports betting now around the corner, Pennsylvania bettors will be able to wager on the NBA Finals and, of course, the start of college and pro football seasons.


App availability

We’re told that Rush Street is having trouble getting a SugarHouse Sportsbook PA app approved in the iOS App Store. So for the time being users will have to access SugarHouse on desktop or the mobile web until the app is available in the App Store.

On Android, SugarHouse Sportsbook PA will be available as a direct download as the Google Play store doesn’t allow real money gaming apps.


Fully legal betting

While sports betting has been available online in PA and other states for a long while through offshore betting sites, fully regulated betting brings wagers out of the shadows with government oversight. With that comes high tax rates for sportsbooks, which had to pay a $10 million upfront fee to the state as well as 36% tax rates on revenue. These steep rates keep some operators from applying for licenses, but as of now about eight have plans to launch sports betting apps in Pennsylvania.


Ripe market

Pennsylvania is home to two major sports cities in Philly and Pittsburgh, and represents a significant opportunity grow sports betting. Fans of the Eagles, Steelers, Sixers, Phillies, Pirates and Penguins can bet on their hometown teams, perhaps ushering in an unprecedented wave of legal sports betting handle.



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