Things are about to change around here. Following our earlier post on the likelihood of PA online sports betting launching sometime before the July 15 go live date for online casinos, an official with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board says online sports betting apps could go live in as soon as three weeks.
Director of Communications Doug Harbach was quoted by Penn Live as saying online betting apps will go up for testing as early as this month.
“I really believe that within the next two to three weeks, we will see the first of the sports wagering internet sites go up for testing,” Harbach said. Assuming no major glitches, the sites should be given the green light from there.
Big deal, for those of you in PA who care about wagering on the NBA Playoffs, and a slew of other golf majors (The Masters was one of New Jersey’s biggest sports betting events).
PA regulator says it will be soon
UPDATE: After posting this, we spoke with Harbach. Here are some highlights of what he said about online betting launch in PA.
He said there will be a limited test period for a period of a few days, similar to New Jersey, where operators can be up and running for select hours. The Gaming Control Board will then work with them to iron out any issues before setting them live 24-7. Harbach said there will be one site live before the others.
“And I would expect that there’ll be some additional operators in line soon thereafter to get their sites up and running. So I think we’ll start to see a number of these being offered within the next couple of months.”
It sounds almost like sports betting sites will go live on a first-come, first-serve basis?
“It will be. We made the announcement today that we were gonna do a more coordinated launch for the iGaming and that will commence on the week of July 15. But in regards to the sports wagering, we’re going to allow them to test and get up and running as they’re ready.”
So it sounds like one app will be ready soon, with several more to follow over the spring and summer.
Anyone wishing to bet will have to be 21+ and pass an age-verification (obviously). And you’ll have to be within the borders of Pennsylvania– this is confirmed using geo-comply or similar technology that uses your phone’s GPS, or through a program you can download on your computer. Both of these are in place over the river.
Executive Director Kevin O’Toole told Penn Live that sports betting is on a faster track to launch than online casino games because there are fewer approval factors at play. For sports betting, PA regulators will have to verify that age verification and GPS tracking works and that the underlying technology backing the bets is sound. But the events themselves – sporting events – are already sanctioned and well officiated, so there is no work to be done there. With online casino games, they have to approve apps to make sure game mechanics and randomness comply with the law and are fair to the player.
Online is where it’s at
This is a quote from Penn Live:
Gaming industry consultant Michael Pollock told PennLive last year that the online games are seen as capturing a younger players who, for whatever reason, are seen as less likely to visit physical casinos.
This is such a ludicrous, simplified line that it borders on patronizing. For whatever reason. Set aside the younger gamer’s interest in visiting casinos, the sheer scale of online betting is almost too obvious to point out: the market size is literally every adult who has a phone in their pocket. It’s not even up for debate. And yet…
Of course your state hasn’t brought in expected sports betting revenue the way New Jersey has– the only state to, thus far, offer wide-scale online betting. Other states have adopted things like “in-casino mobile betting,” which is so archaic it almost hurts my head.
Pennsylvania has higher tax rates on casinos and partners when it comes to sports betting, which contributed to a tepid response from operators to enter the market, but the opportunity is too great in a state with two major sports cities. This all makes Philly the epicenter of the sports betting universe, with its entire market within three states that allow sports betting– two of which, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, will allow wide-scale online sports betting.
Which apps will be first?
We’ve put together a complete guide on where and how you’ll be able to bet online in Pennsylvania, but among those expected to be in contention to launch soon are:
What about DraftKings Sportsbook PA? They’ll need to find a casino partner first, but do have plans to enter the market, likely before football season.
All have been working on betting apps for some time, and in the case of FanDuel and SugarHouse (and Rivers, owned by same company as SugarHouse), some have working apps elsewhere.
We’ve reached out to the PCGB for comment and additional information and will update this post if we hear anything.