Caesars Entertainment, owner of many successful gambling venues around the world, is eager to leverage its successful Harrah’s presence in the Pennsylvania market into a new sports wagering opportunity.
Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack has opened its physical sports betting facility just in time for the 2018-19 season Super Bowl. The corresponding online sports betting app should come in 2020. Both projects are being powered by Scientific Games.
Will Harrah’s sportsbook find success in the market? It certainly has the brand recognition on its side, and its land-based plans are ambitious to say the least. Online is more of a wildcard, as a Caesars online book in New Jersey – which was presumed to be used as the model for Harrah’s PA book – is currently underwhelming.
|Online launch||Expected 2020|
|Online partners||Scientific Games|
|License||Approved Oct. 2018|
|Land-based book||Launched Jan 22, 2019|
Harrah’s sportsbook welcome package
It is typical for online casinos and sportsbooks to offer a welcome package for new players. Usually these include:
- A no-deposit bonus: If we look to New Jersey, Caesars online sportsbook is offering a $10 free bet just for signing up.
- A deposit matches: If we look again to New Jersey, Caesars Online sportsbook is offering a $300 first bet match. Basically, you place your first sports bet, and they match that bet in the form of a free bet, win or lose.
Judging by other sites in the family, it wouldn’t be out of the question if Harrah’s offered something like a $10 no-deposit bonus, followed by a first-time deposit match of 100% up to $300 for their online Casino patrons with a very friendly 5x wagering requirement. This coupled along with a $300 match bet is a great offer for new customers.
What advantages will Harrah’s have in the Pennsylvania market?
- Brand recognition: Harrah’s is an established name in the gambling industry across many markets, residing alongside the many Caesars, Bally’s, and WSOP properties that make up Caesars Entertainment. Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack itself boasts more than a decade of success in Pennsylvania and currently has the fifth highest revenue in the state.
- Proven experience: In addition to its many land-based resorts, Caesars Entertainment also supports online casinos and online poker rooms in Nevada and New Jersey, and physical sportsbooks in both those states plus Mississippi. Caesars has also provided mobile sports wagering to the Nevada market since 2017, and to online bettors in New Jersey since September 2018. Suffice it to say, Caesars is a large sportsbook operator, with more experience than just about anyone in the game.
- Location, location, location: Philadelphia is home to some of the most, shall we say … passionate sports fans, many of whom will be eager to place bets with a trusted and nearby brand. Harrah’s Philadelphia may not actually be located in the heart of Philly (it resides in nearby Chester, PA), but it’s close enough that it should draw betting dollars from rabid Eagles, Phillies, Fliers, and 76ers fans.
- Platform integration: If Harrah’s PA online sportsbook remains like Caesars Casino and Sports in New Jersey, it will mean players will have access to the decent software from Scientific Games – and also that that bets at either the book or the casino will earn valuable Total Rewards points (redeemable for cash online, or for use at any Caesars’ land-based property).
Harrah’s land-based sportsbook
At a October 2018 PA Gaming Control Board hearing, Harrah’s unveiled its plans for a permanent sportsbook at its Chester location, housed inside the renovated racebook, with over 4,300 square feet of space dedicated to sports betting. The permanent sportsbook opened its doors in January 2019 and is located towards the back of the main casino floor. Other upgrades include Top Golf and a brand new state of the art WSOP poker room located mere steps away from “The Book.”
One glaring omission from the retail sportsbook is the use of self-serve kiosks. Self-serve kiosks are somewhat of a standard in today’s world of sports betting, and we hope that Harrah’s will get on board as it will make life easier for both bettors and employees.
- An odds board
- 40 flat screen TVs
- Six teller windows
- Two horseracing terminals
- Stadium-style seating
- Television packages featuring a huge number of games
- An adjacent table games pit
Harrah’s accommodations opened to the public in January.
Harrah’s online sportsbook
Company representatives have been pretty mum on Harrah’s online sport betting plans.
What we do know is that Harrah’s online casino in NJ does not currently offer a sports betting option, but its sister site Caesars Casino has an online sportsbook powered by SG Digital, a branch of Scientific Games. Given that Harrah’s is already partnered with SG Digital in Pennsylvania, it is nearly certain that the provider will power an extremely similar Harrah’s-branded sports site in that market.
As to when the online sportsbook will launch, we’re likely looking at mid-late 2020. Harrah’s plans to integrate its online sportsbook into its online casino, much like Caesars Casino does in New Jersey.
The Caesars sports site in NJ has a fully featured interface which allows wagers for all major sports leagues, with parlay and futures options. In total market share the site ranks very nearly last, but this is amongst stiffer and more competition than Harrah’s will have to compete with in PA.
Probable online features
Based on other Caesars Entertainment sites, one can expect to see most of the usual cashier options, such as:
- ACH eChecks
- Credit/debit cards
- eWallets such as NETELLER
- Cash at the cashier’s cage at Harrah’s Philadelphia
- Online banking transfer
Harrah’s available sports options to wager on should include:
- Pro and College Basketball
- Pro and College Football
- Auto Racing
- And more
Standard types of betting options are expected:
- Moneyline, Over/Under, and point spread bets
- Live in-game wagers
- Early cash out
Online sportsbooks can offer an array of similar promotions at given times. These including recharge deposit matches, discounts on time-specific bets or improved odds, or temporary loss prevention on certain themed parlays. Caesars in New Jersey tends to steer mostly towards bet matches and typically come in the form of 100% or 50% matches on specific bets.
All Caesars properties (online and physical) participate in the shared Total Rewards network, one of the bigger and better-known casino rewards programs. All bets will likely contribute to a player’s TR Tier and Rewards score, the latter of which can be redeemed for rewards and discounts at Caesars online sites and dozens of resorts worldwide.
The path to Harrah’s Sportsbook
Harrah’s was pretty much a no-brainer to dip its toe into the Pennsylvania sports betting waters. Its parent company Caesars Entertainment has been an active participant in the Nevada market for many years. And although Caesars was late to the party in launching a mobile sports wagering app in Nevada, in New Jersey, it was among the first to offer sports betting on iOS, Android, and desktop computers in New Jersey. The Harrah’s and Caesars’ brands have also supported online casino sites in New Jersey dating back to November 2013.
Harrah’s is also home to a racetrack and right outside Philadelphia, rendering it a prime candidate to make the transition to sports.
Harrah’s made its intentions to enter the sports betting industry in Pennsylvania known on September 25, 2018, the third property in the state to petition. It committed $10 million for the right to offer books at its land-based venue in Chester and online.
The license application was swiftly approved on October 31, 2018 by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, landing Harrah’s a spot among the first five PA casinos to be approved for sports betting, joining Parx, Rivers, SugarHouse, and Hollywood Casino at Penn National. A soft launch for physical book occurred on January 22, 2019, with full operations officially beginning on January 24.
Harrah’s future forecast
In theory, a prospective Harrah’s sports betting operation in Pennsylvania has a lot going for it. Solid location, brand recognition, integration with Total Rewards, a top-notch provider and years of experience working with said provider.
But the brand hasn’t exactly been crushing it in neighboring New Jersey, with land-based books at Bally’s and Harrah’s AC, as well as CaesarsCasino.com, only accounting for a small piece of the pie. In large part, we feel this is due to Caesars rolling out a rather lackluster (some may even say unfinished) sports wagering platform.
Also, the location, while decent, isn’t as ideal for Philadelphia sports bettors as Parx and Rivers Philadelphia (formerly SugarHouse), both of whom have launch land-based sportsbooks before Harrah’s (and have planned corresponding mobile apps). While Harrah’s intentions for its land-based sportsbook were clearly set out, the specific plans for the online sports operation have not been made clear in detail.
We are not entirely sure why the long delay in launching an online sportsbook or casino is in PA, as they have the experience, the software partner and the green light from the gaming control board, but be sure to check back often for any updates on promotions or launch dates here at PennBets.