As the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was being repealed by the Supreme Court of the United States in May 2018, sports fans and gamblers from around the country rejoiced in the potential of being able to bet on sports legally after years of using online sportsbooks based offshore. However, each state has to decide if they want to legalize the activity and then come up with a set of regulations that meet the goal of the government. This has caused some states to be slower to adopt new rules than others. Pennsylvania was one state that seemed ahead of the game, but as you will read, it was a slow road to where we sit today – legal online sports betting available to players from across the state.
A brief history of legalized sports betting in the state
Many people may not realize that Pennsylvania had an eye to legalize sports betting before PASPA was repealed. The state’s proximity to New Jersey, which was leading the fight to have the laws changed, gave state legislators a ringside seat to the activity, which led it to believe that it could also make some changes to its laws regarding all forms of online gambling. In 2017, the state passed a bill that would see online casinos, online poker and sports betting all become legal.
The state, in passing this law, did have some hurdles to overcome with its potential licensees. As part of the language in the bill, there would only be enough licenses to include each of the state’s current land-based gambling facilities such as racetracks and casinos. Each location would have the option of applying for individual licenses for sports, casino, and poker or one all-encompassing license. The issue, however, was in the cost of the licenses. Each single license came with a whopping $4 Million fee, which could be reduced to $10 million for anyone applying for all three. This is a massive amount of money for any operation to put up to take the risk. As a result, the applications trickled in instead of the flood of operators interested in joining a legalized online gambling marketplace in neighboring New Jersey. The government also said that if there were any licenses left over after the initial deadline for the land-based casinos, these licenses would go up for auction to businesses that did not have a foothold in the Pennsylvania gaming landscape.
To make online sports betting even more challenging, there is a 36% state tax applied to revenues of sportsbook operators. This is far and away the highest tax rate in the country and has caused many sportsbooks to tighten their belts in order to stay profitable, which is detrimental to players.
There are some rules written into the online sports betting laws that should be pointed out here. First, you can only bet on sports in Pennsylvania, with entertainment events like the Academy Awards not available to bettors in the state. Second, and most importantly for players in New Jersey, is that there is no restriction on betting on college sports from the Garden State. This means that players from New Jersey who want to bet on their local teams can do so merely by driving across the border and pulling up their app from their phones inside Pennsylvania.
Where you can make online sports bets in Pennsylvania
Thankfully, mobile and online sports betting were included in the initial draft of the legislation, as opposed to some other states which either restrict online play or don’t have it at all. This means that you do not have to go to a physical sportsbook in Pennsylvania to make your bets. However, there is a lot of enjoyment that comes from being in a sportsbook with others who are betting on action as well, so we don’t discourage you from checking out one of the books – you can still make bets online from those facilities, don’t worry.
Here are the sites that currently offer online sportsbooks to Pennsylvania residents:
There are a handful of online sports betting sites that have yet to launch, but we expect those to be up and running in 2020.
How to choose the best online sportsbook
With so many options to choose from, finding the right site for you can seem to be a daunting task. Have no fear – we are here to help you navigate through all the sites to find the best value proposition for your gambling style. Here are a few pointers for you to keep in mind as you check out each of the sites.
What do you like to bet on?
Not every sportsbook offers action on the same sports. Of course, you will find all the major sports listed at the different sites, but when you are looking for more obscure sports or leagues from outside the United States, you may not find odds listed at some of the online sites. Do your research before you create an account, and you won’t be left disappointed when you try to make a bet on Second Division Italian soccer.
This also applies to finding sites that offer the most bets on each game. Some sites limit the number of bet options per game, while others can offer up to 100 different bets on any one match. Live betting is also becoming a much more popular form of sports betting – allowing you to bet on the outcome of the game after the game has started – so make sure the site you choose has in-play betting options for you.
Are you looking for bonuses and rewards?
One way that an online sportsbook can stand out against another is in the offers it gives players to incentivize them to make deposits and bets. If you look at the sites in Pennsylvania, you will find that each has its own twist on signup bonuses and loyalty programs. Our reviews dig deep into each site’s promotions to ensure you know what you are getting into when you create your account.
Do you want to play on an app?
At this time, not all the sites have dedicated iOS or Android apps. While they are all working to rectify this, if you are set on being able to download a native app for sports betting, then you want to make sure the site you choose has that option.b
Making Deposits and Withdrawals at Pennsylvania Online Sports Betting Sites
Once you have chosen an online sports betting site, you will want to make a deposit to get started on your gambling journey. The excellent news for bettors in Pennsylvania is that in a regulated online betting environment, making deposits and withdrawals is easier than ever!
You could, if you wanted, head into the land-based gambling facility that runs the site with which you want to play, head to the cage and make your deposit in cash. This may seem a bit cumbersome for many people, so there are also many different options from a digital payment standpoint. This includes:
- Prepaid Cards
- Debit Cards
- Wire Transfers
- Credit Cards
- Bill Pay
You won’t be able to withdraw your funds using some of these methods. Our site reviews will show you exactly what options are available at each site
Pennsylvania Online Sports Betting Frequently Asked Questions
Can I still bet with an offshore-based sportsbook site in Pennsylvania
You can, but we aren’t sure why you would. These sites continue to work outside of the legal jurisdiction of the U.S., and while it isn’t likely they are going anywhere anytime soon, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Americans to get money to and from these sites. With no regulatory oversight, your funds and activity cannot be protected, so if you are going to continue to play at these sites, you choose to do so at your own risk.
Can I use cryptocurrencies at legal sites in Pennsylvania?
Today, you cannot use Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency at a legal online sports betting site in Pennsylvania. These unregulated forms of currency are far too volatile for operators to want to engage in accepting them for betting, especially when they are already paying high tax rates in the state. It’s doubtful we will see cryptocurrency payments available anytime soon.
What happens if I have an issue with a bet in my account?
If you notice something wrong with your account – maybe a bet was not paid out correctly, or you can’t find the bet slip for the bet you made – you can reach out directly to the customer support teams of the site you are playing with. Most sites will offer 24/7 support, although some may only provide sports betting support during the hours that games are being played in the U.S. Check each site for the different ways of communicating with them and you will be able to have your issue dealt with promptly
Can I bet from my mobile device in Pennsylvania?
You certainly can! You can create accounts, fund them, and make bets all from your phone or tablet. As we outlined earlier, not every site has a native app to download, but you can access the mobile websites of every site from your phone’s browser.
Can I get my money out of an online site at a land-based casino in Pennsylvania?
There are currently no sites that allow you to gather your winnings from a cage at a casino, but this could change at any time as there are no restrictions in place stopping an operator from offering this service.