Pennsylvania sports bettors this week gained their eighth option for online wagers with the test launch of the BetAmerica site of Churchill Downs Inc., owner of Presque Isle Downs & Casino.
The first of three days of testing under Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board monitoring took place Monday. The hours of operation continue online from 2 p.m. to midnight Tuesday and noon to midnight Wednesday. Players can only create accounts, deposit or withdraw funds, and place bets during those hours.
If the board is satisfied during its review of the soft launch, permanent operations at pa.betamerica.com would begin Thursday. Churchill Downs’ BetAmerica brand has already been running Presque Isle’s retail sportsbook, which opened in July and handled $3.7 mm in wagers in November.
Pennsylvania site follows BetAmerica’s start in New Jersey
Using a sport wagering platform powered by its partner SBTech, BetAmerica has operated online in New Jersey since February in connection with the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City. It also operates sportsbooks in Mississippi and says on its website that it has an online book coming to Indiana “soon.”
In Pennsylvania, its site will eventually have an online casino, although that is not yet in place. BetAmerica is also still in the process of creating phone apps, so for now its site is for use only through devices using web browsers.
Compared to some of its online predecessors in Pennsylvania, BetAmerica’s enticements appearing on its website Tuesday for new customers are relatively modest: one $25 free bet plus a first-deposit match of up to $100.
On its New Jersey platform, BetAmerica advertises a $1,000 risk-free first bet for new customers. Representatives of Churchill Downs and Presque Isle did not respond to an email sent Tuesday morning asking about the welcome offers and whether the difference could relate to Pennsylvania’s much higher tax rate for sports betting than in New Jersey.
November’s addition of DraftKings and Unibet as the sixth and seventh online sites in Pennsylvania helped drive the state’s sports betting handle to a new high of $316.5 mm, and BetAmerica’s launch should make the total go still higher in December. The November figures showed 84.3% of the betting volume in Pennsylvania comes online.