Pennsylvania is a state that is well-known for having its own opinions on many matters, and residents in the state are not shy about expressing them. This rang true when it came time to decide how they were going to legalize and regulate the online gambling industry. Today, there are many online casinos that are live in the state – this page will give you all the information you need to know to be a knowledgeable player in Pennsylvania.
A brief history of legalized online casinos in the state
The online casino industry grew as a result of many offshore-based companies in the 2000s and early 2010s. States were becoming frustrated that casino dollars were flowing out of the country with no repercussions, and this was having a significant impact on the land-based operators not only in Pennsylvania but in other states as well.
Watching New Jersey pass online casino legislation in 2013 and seeing the subsequent rise in revenues for the operators, the government of neighboring Pennsylvania started its process of coming up with regulations as well. In 2017, the state passed a bill that would see online casinos, online poker sites, and online sportsbooks regulated. However, they did decide to put their own spin on the laws that caused some controversy both with operators and with other states.
As per the letter of the law, only 13 online casino licenses are being granted in Pennsylvania. This provides one for each of the current land-based gaming operators in the state. The initial application fee for this license was set at $4 Million (or if an operator applied for sports and poker as well, the entire package was $10 Million). This is significantly higher than any other state that has passed online gambling legislation of any kind and caused the operators to think long and hard before committing to the application.
Another stumbling block for the potential licensees in the state was the high tax rate set by the government in passing the law. The tax rate for revenues from table games is 16%, while the revenues from slots are taxed at an astronomical 54%. For many casinos, this strips away their opportunity to profit from these games, especially in a highly competitive market.
As a result of these two roadblocks, only 10 of the 13 qualifying entities took the state up on its licensing. The remaining three licenses went onto the auction block and were scooped up by out-of-state entities.
Where you can play legal online casino games in Pennsylvania
To date, only five of the 13 potential online casinos have opened for business in the state. It is expected that several more will open in early 2020. Here are the casinos that are currently taking real money bets from Pennsylvania residents and those visiting the state:
Each of these sites offers a slightly different array of games, promotions, and payment options. The competition will only get more fierce when companies like Draft Kings enter the fray in 2020.
How to choose the best online casino in Pennsylvania
With multiple options available to players, and casino sites looking so similar, it takes some time to research what online casino is the right one for you. Luckily, we have done most of the heavy lifting for you with our online casino review pages. Here is a glimpse into the criteria our team of experts looks at when reviewing a casino, which you can use for your own reference when checking out sites.
This is typically the first place to start when trying to determine which online casino you want to play with. Each of the sites will offer a selection of table games and slot machines, but the number of each varies quite dramatically across the board at legal online casinos in Pennsylvania.
One thing to look for at first is if a site offers the massive network jackpot games that could take one of your spins or hands and turn it into a monster jackpot win. Not every site offers these games, and while they have an additional cost to play, if you are looking for a massive, life-changing payout, then you should be looking for sites that offer these titles.
Next, you should look for sites that offer Live Casino games. These games, which feature a live dealer streamed onto your device, are growing rapidly in popularity because of the interaction with the dealers and how these tables replicate the action in a land-based casino. For years, players have complained about the speed of the hands when playing traditional online casino games, and while some people prefer that speed, an increasing number of players want to have a more immersive experience with an online casino.
Bonuses and Promotions
To stand out against its competitors, each online casino in Pennsylvania has its own set of bonuses and promotions designed to attract your deposits. However, to the untrained eye, these bonuses can all look the same. Our team of experts breaks down each promotion to determine which ones are better for social players versus high-rollers.
One advantage that online casinos have in a legalized environment in Pennsylvania over their foreign competition is in the loyalty programs that can be offered. Offshore casinos have to rely on cash and bonus incentives, while in Pennsylvania, the licensed online casinos can use the power of their land-based properties in keeping their players loyal. With all the online brands having casino or racetrack partners and sponsoring sports teams, you can find loyalty rewards that include free meals, event tickets and hotel rooms depending on where you play. If you are looking for cash rewards, have no fear – those exist as well. Our detailed reviews will go through all your options at each of the sites available in the state.
Payments to and from online sports betting sites in Pennsylvania
If you have played with an offshore casino before, you may have felt the frustration of trying to get paid when you are a winner. In many cases, it is very cumbersome to get your money sent to the U.S. due to the banking laws from 2006 that don’t allow U.S. banks to process these types of gambling transactions.
Fortunately, with the passing of the online gambling legislation in Pennsylvania in 2017, the door was opened to being able to use your U.S. cards again. Now, not every bank has cleared online gambling payments for approval yet, so your bank may still reject the transactions from your debit or credit cards, but you do have the option of using other methods such as e-Wallets, Bank Transfers, or many prepaid cards to fund your account. You can also head to the land-based casino that operates the site you choose, and they will take your deposit at the cage.
When you are looking to cash out your winnings (and we hope you all become big winners), there are fewer options than there are for depositing funds. You can request a check or a wire, and you can be paid back to your e-wallet account if you have one. Finally, if you want, you can indeed head back to the land-based casino and get your money out there.
Pennsylvania Online Casino FAQ
Are offshore casino sites open to players in Pennsylvania?
Despite making online casinos legal and regulated in Pennsylvania, there continues to be a large number of sites that are unlicensed still open to residents of the state (and most states across the country). These offshore-based sites offer slots and table games, but not nearly the same number or quality as those that are currently available from licensed casinos. Add in the fact that getting money to and from an offshore casino is difficult, costly and riskier, and we cannot recommend that you play at any of these sites no matter how attractive their bonuses and promotions might be.
Can I play for free at an online casino in Pennsylvania?
Yes, many of the sites offer free-to-play versions of their games alongside the real money versions. These games may be limited in scope, but they do give you a chance to try out a slot machine or table game before you decide to make a deposit. Some sites also offer you a no-deposit bonus to try out the real money games without handing over your own cash. Either way, there is an opportunity to play online casino games in Pennsylvania for free.
How do I convert bonus money into real money at an online casino?
When you make a deposit, you could be credited with bonus dollars in your account. Each casino will have their own rules regarding how quickly you can convert this bonus cash into real cash, and also how much of your winnings derived from bonus money can be withdrawn. However, the objective is still the same – you need to reach a level of betting dollars made to unlock portions of your bonus. Every game typically also has a conversion percentage as well – best bet is to check the Terms and Conditions of the site at with you want to play before you make your qualifying deposit.
Can I play casino games from my mobile device in Pennsylvania?
Thankfully, yes, you can! Mobile gaming is an integral part of the overall online casino industry, and in Pennsylvania, all the licensees are able to offer their casino games via phones and tablets. You can also set up your account and fund it right from your phone, so you don’t even have to leave your house in order to get into the excitement.
What games have the best odds in an online casino?
As with a land-based casino, the better odds tend to be found at table games than with the slots. Yes, slot machines have high payout percentages, but in the long run, the casino holds more in these games than anything else. With online casino table games, you are at the mercy of the settings that the casino has put in place, which makes the Live Casino table games far more attractive to players as they mirror the type of play you would find at any casino in Pennsylvania.