Mobile sports betting is expected in Pennsylvania during the spring of 2019.
While casino games are sometimes an awkward fit on mobile screens, sports betting is nearly perfectly suited for smartphones and tablets. In Pennsylvania, venues licensed to offer sports wagering — of which there are currently six — are permitted to offer one online website/mobile app each.
According to a state law passed in 2017, gambling properties may partner with third-party software providers in developing their live and virtual offerings. By teaming up with experienced operators, casinos can quickly deliver safe and robust sports betting apps, without the need to develop their own from scratch. This is great for PA gamblers, who can conveniently place bets on-the-go anywhere inside the Commonwealth. Players don’t even need to be Pennsylvania residents in order to participate, they can simply be visiting or passing through, so long as they meet the 21+ age requirement.
Below we break down everything you need to know about PA mobile sportsbooks, so you can start placing bets on your favorite teams in the time it takes to send a text message.
Advantages of mobile sportsbook apps
- Speed and convenience: Why drive out to a casino and wait in line at a teller window to place a bet when you can simply whip out your phone and wager wherever you have an Internet connection? While there are perks to lounging with your buddies at a land-based book, when it comes to convenience, mobile wagering just can’t be matched.
- In-play betting: Without online and mobile apps, taking advantage of in-play bets, or bets which are only valid for quick one-off plays, are virtually impossible. There just isn’t enough time to take advantage of these short-term bets when forced to wait in line at a betting counter or kiosk. Mobile apps, however, are perfectly suited to display these types of wagers in real time, allowing users to pull the trigger instantly.
- Welcome bonuses: Nearly all online and mobile sportsbooks offer new players incentives for signing up and depositing in the form of a welcome package. These can include deposit bonuses, free bets and even free money just for signing up an account. Brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, on the other hand, don’t usually offer these type of monetary rewards for new players.
- Bet at the game, or roam free: With mobile betting, players can bet anywhere inside the state. This is perfect for those that don’t live near a brick-and-mortar casino with a sportsbook. It also allows gamblers taking in a game at, say, Lincoln Field or Wells Fargo Center, to spice up the experience by placing a bet while watching the action live.
- Bargain hunting: In addition to all the welcome bonuses and promotions offered on mobile wagering apps, players will have the opportunity to readily access the best odds. Don’t love the line on the Philadelphia Eagles at one book? Quickly flip to another app in search of better pricing. This simply isn’t possible at retail outlets, where visitors will have one pricing option.
Disadvantages of mobile sports betting
- Missing the sportsbook experience: With their panels of huge TV screens, comfy seating and fully stocked bars, many PA sportsbooks are quite luxurious, and provide the perfect atmosphere to kick back and watch sports with your friends, while placing a bet or two. Gambling on your mobile, for some, just isn’t as fun as lounging in a casino sportsbook, where dozens of games can be viewed simultaneously.
- Less privacy: Betting online or on a mobile device will require you to enter your personal details, whereas most casinos will allow players to make smaller wagers with no ID. While any data sent to an online sportsbook is kept in highly secure, encrypted databases, some gamblers may prefer not to create online accounts and avoid having their personal information stored.
- Some tech knowledge required: Some players just aren’t very familiar with computers, smartphones or technology in general, and may prefer to place their bets the old-fashioned way — in person. While the process of downloading and wagering on a betting app is relatively straightforward, some may not find it to be such a simple process.
Which PA casinos will have mobile sports wagering apps?
In the Commonwealth, 13 casinos are eligible to purchase sports betting licenses, and so far, over half a dozen have already done so. More will likely come, but the high fees demanded by the state ($10 million per license + a 36% tax on gross gaming revenue) have limited the pool so far.
As most revenue from sports betting comes from online wagering rather than from patrons at a physical book, you can rest assured that all PA sports licensees will eventually be launching iOS and Android mobile apps.
But unlike online casino licensees, which can host an unlimited number of skins, sportsbook permit holders are limited to one online/mobile partner each. In addition, those offerings must prominently display the name of the host casino, not the skin (e.g. “Valley Forge” instead of “FanDuel”).
Currently, the following six casinos have applied for a sports betting license. Several have already launched land-based books, and are very close to going online.
|Penn National||William Hill||Grantville||Live (retail)|
|Parx Casino||GAN||Bensalem||Live (retail)|
|Harrah's Philadelphia||Scientific Games/(Kambi?)||Chester||Live (retail)|
|SugarHouse Casino||Kambi||Philadelphia||Live (retail)|
|Rivers Casino||Kambi||Pittsburgh||Live (retail)|
|Valley Forge||IGT/GAN||King of Prussia||Live (retail)|
|Presque Isle Downs||BetAmerica||Erie||Q2 2019|
|Mohegan Sun||Kindred (Formerly Unibet)||Wilkes-Barre||TBD|
The South Philly Turf Club was also able to open a land-based book via the Greenwood Gaming license. It launched in January 2019.
Frequently asked questions
PA casinos will make their mobile sportsbooks available for devices running iOS and Android software. The iOS platform is utilized in Apple products like iPhones, iPod touches, and iPad tablets; Android was created by Google, and comes stock inside a huge array of smartphones and tablets made by a variety of hardware makers. Some casinos will likely take a delayed approach to launching their online products, perhaps debuting only the iOS or Android version at the start while they work out the kinks. Eventually, though, we expect all of them to offer their sportsbooks on both platforms.
Betting markets are dependent on each individual casino and their software partners. Some properties have teamed up with more robust third-party providers, which gives them the option of spreading more games across more sports.
At the very least, players can expect to bet on the major U.S. sports leagues, along with golf, college football and international soccer events. In the future, books may add betting on non-sporting events such as the outcome of the Oscars, for example, if approved by the state Gaming Control Board. The sky’s the limit.
The same bet types available at online sites and live books (and likely a few more) will be available on mobile apps. That includes, but is not limited to the following:
- In-game wagers
- Prop bets
- Straight wagers
- Round robins
Yes, most definitely. It doesn’t matter if you sign up for your account online via desktop computer or through your mobile device, you will receive any bonus packages available, so long as you follow the instructions laid out on this site or on the casino’s own website or app.
Sportsbooks have even been known to sweeten the pot for mobile gamblers by offering special bonuses which can only be won through smartphones or tablets.
Players may only make real money bets if they are physically inside the state of Pennsylvania. Even if a player is a PA resident, they will no longer be able to bet once they cross over the border outside of the Commonwealth.
Patrons can, however, create an account and make a deposit into their account in preparation for a time when they will be inside the state. Most, if not all, operators will allow out-of-state users to view odds at any time as well. This includes visitors and nonresidents, who could even enter the state just for a short period of time to place their bets, then quickly leave. The bettor does not need to be inside Pennsylvania in order to have their winnings paid to their player account.
Modern mobile devices are equipped with GPS technology, which can send data about a player’s location to the app in order to verify that they are indeed inside the Keystone State. This technology is extremely accurate and can detect a user’s location within a few feet.
Some casinos, like SugarHouse and Caesars in New Jersey, create a one-stop shop with their software, allowing players to bet on sports and play casino games right on the same app. Therefore, players can use their sportsbook bankroll to play slots and table games, or vice versa. Other operators prefer to separate the different game types, which can also include poker, into several different apps. This is wholly dependent on the preference of each individual property.
Most PA online sports betting apps are extremely robust and allow players to do everything on the app that they could do through a website. That includes making deposits and withdrawals, checking your balance, updating your personal information, opting into responsible gaming measures, and more. Therefore, if you don’t have or want to use a desktop computer for your sports betting activities, you won’t need to.
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