Pennsylvania has the second-biggest gambling market in the US. It’s also close behind Nevada in terms of its size and the revenue generated by gambling. The Coal State is one of the three highest-ranked in the country, with a well-established land-based gambling industry that’s recorded unmitigated success over the years. But, it was only in the last 2 years that gambling really took off here and has attracted millions of visitors thanks to the fun activities and several gaming options that people can choose from.
Pennsylvania was the fourth state that legalized online gambling, but iGaming now faces a tax issue. Online casino winnings should be subjected to the same tax (34%) as land-based casinos; however, this tax does not apply for the casino-style games offered by the state-owned Pennsylvania Lottery, which primary function is to produce financing for state programs, so there is no competitive advantage.
The local casinos didn't want to compete with the Pennsylvania Lottery and sued it for this recent extension. The claim stated that the Lottery exceeded its boundaries and that the new games depend on imagery that makes them identical to slot machines. It is hard to predict how the judge will decide about this lawsuit, which could disrupt the undecided international player pooling for online poker.
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Pennsylvania Gambling Laws
Compared to the other US states, Pennsylvania doesn't have a profound history with legal forms of gambling. In 1967, Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission permitted and supervised racing events and pari-mutual bets in the entire state. In 1971, the Pennsylvania legislators passed Act 91, which established the state lottery as a government institution overseeing illegal gambling operations and commercial advertising, prizes distribution, and ticket selling. Since then, The Pennsylvania lottery has grown into the largest one in the USA, and it alone makes over $4 billion in annual income.
In 2004, Pennsylvania made a push for gambling legalization by approving Act 71. This bill is also known as the Pennsylvania Racehorse Development and Gaming Act, which authorized licenses for casinos within the state and created Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. The act legalized up to 5,000 slot machines in the casinos. In 2006, Pennsylvania opened its first casino, Mohegan Sun, at Pocono Downs.
The current meaning of gambling legislation in Pennsylvania is to use the income to increase the economy, help the state's financial deficit and create more job opportunities. Since 2010, the state government has permitted casinos to operate up to 250 table games. From 2013, there were several unsuccessful attempts in regulating online gambling until finally, in 2017, the government accepted Bill HB 271 into the Pennsylvania gambling laws and legalized poker games and online casinos. In 2018, the drastic change in the gaming industry happened because of the US Supreme Court decision to lift all gambling bans. Since then, the US states can choose their gambling legislation.
The legal gambling age is also important to mention. It varies between 18 and 21 years in Pennsylvania, depending on the activity. The gambling age for lottery, horse betting, bingo and online casinos is at least 18 years old. It differs for the brick and mortar casinos where it requires you to be 21 years old because the land-based facilities sell alcohol and must obey drinking laws.
Deposit Options at Pennsylvania Gambling Sites
Pennsylvania has many deposit methods for online poker, sports betting, and online casino gambling sites. These include credit, debit or prepaid cards, eWallets, online banking transfers, cash transactions, and other alternative methods. But not all of them can be available on every gambling site.
The most-used depositing option is ACH transfer, which is also available on every site. The transfer from the checking account is almost effortless with solid limits and are quickly processed, so the funds are available instantly. ACH transfer is supported as VIP Preferred by many sportsbook operators and casinos and processed by the Global Payments company, a regular partner for the online gambling industry.
Every Pennsylvania online gambling site offers credit or debit cards and their own branded prepaid card as a deposit option. Usually, it is possible to use only MasterCard or Visa but Discover Card is also accepted at many sites. Deposits are fast, electronic and easy, but there can be a lower limit if you’re using a checking account. Prepaid cards are provided mainly by Play+, but they are a two-step process because the money is transferred usually via a debit card or checking account onto the card and then to the betting site account. The good thing is that you can choose to create an online account only because the physical prepaid card isn’t necessary.
PayPal is the one of the best and most favorited eWallets in the US. Paypal is the easiest option because the transfers are fee-free and have high limits. The only inconvenience is that the email address on the PayPal account needs to match the one on the betting account. Another eWallet variant is Netellerl, but there are usually charges for the transactions.
There are local cash-in-hand locations in the eastern part of Pennsylvania for gamers who are not comfortable sharing their banking information online. After establishing a PayNearMe deposit that generates a bar code, the betters need to proceed to a PayNearMe site at the local 7-Eleven store, CVS Pharmacies or Family Dollar. Show an authorization code to the cashier and hand him the right amount of cash that cannot exceed $500 a day. The other physical option is to visit the cashier's cage of a sportsbook or brick-and-mortar casino, where you can instantly deposit cash or check with no limit.
Under rare circumstances, other alternative methods can be used for money deposits, such as mailed paper checks or wire transfers. These options are complicated to arrange, prolonged, and usually include fees.
Millions of people worldwide have switched to online gambling, mostly because it gives you the freedom and comfort of being able to play from the comfort of your own home. But the traditional casinos are irreplaceable because of their hospitality and atmosphere, which the online gambling industry will undeniably never offer. Brick-and-mortar casinos are back and better than before.
Pennsylvania has 12 land-based casinos in activity. There is no trouble for visitors and residents to find their favorite gaming formats, especially along the state's eastern border. The game offerings include more than 30,000 slot machines, 1,000 gaming tables, 290 poker tables, nine horse tracks and sports betting. The most extensive gaming options are offered at Parx Casino & Racing of Bensalem.
In Pennsylvania, the Gaming Control Board permits the licenses for permanent gaming operations. The land-based casinos are divided into four categories according to the type of license 1-4. These categories are Racinos, Standalone, Resort and Satellite casinos.
Pennsylvania's poker scene counts around ten poker rooms throughout the state. The primary poker hotspot is in Eastern Pennsylvania, but the western part also offers good games at Rivers Casino and Presque Isle Downs. The most widely attended daily tournaments are organized in Parx Casino in Bensalem, which also hosts Big Stax series events. Poker experts are attracted to Harrah's Philadelphia Poker Room every April because of The World Series of Poker Circuit. Philadelphia Poker Room offers lower cost contests in the colder part of the year. Philadelphia offers the benefit of loose rules for minimum buy-ins in many poker rooms for cash-game players, which means recreational players can also enjoy the action.
The issue of international player pooling for online poker between Philadelphia and New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada, has not been decided yet. The new rules do not explicitly prohibit such a solution, but it would require the cooperation of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. This cooperation is threatened because the local casinos have filed a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania iLottery program.
Pennsylvania Sports Betting
Sports betting in Pennsylvania became legal in 2018, and in 2019 it extended to adjust online wagering. Online sports gambling was allowed once the Supreme Court canceled the long-standing federal ban on sports betting in 2021. Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board regulates online sportsbooks and acts as a mediator in a complaint or dispute from bettors who have an unsettled matter with a sportsbook. The board conducts a profound investigation and provides a final decision after that. Gamers on offshore sites have no such guarantee.
Pennsylvania Daily Fantasy Sports
The Gaming Control Board oversees daily Fantasy Sports in Pennsylvania according to the new iGaming bill. Still, the rules are not the same as other types of internet gambling. Operators don't need to have a local partner, $50,000 is the cost of a five-year license, and there is a 15% tax on gross income. FanDuel and DraftKings companies already have a permit. Other companies, like Sports Hub, Draft, FastPick, FantasyDraft, Boom Fantasy, Fantasy Football Players Championship, are currently waiting for the license. A local fantasy kiosk operator, Eagle Strike and Yahoo DFS are now applying for a permit.
In 1971, the legislature passed Act 91 which established the Pennsylvania Lottery, one of the US's oldest and most lucrative lotteries. In 1972, the first tickets were sold for 50-cents, and the lottery started with weekly drawings and a $1 million main prize.
The Pennsylvania Lottery is the only US state lottery that solely appoints its earnings to favor older people. At first, the proceeds helped the seniors with property tax relief. Nowadays, the funding range has widened to other older citizens' benefits, including free or reduced-fare transit, low-cost prescription for medication, rent reductions, nationwide senior centers, and long-term living services.
Initially, the Pennsylvania Lottery needed to donate 30 cents of each dollar earned to Pennsylvania businesses, and 40 cents was mandated to contribute to prize money for the players. In 2008, Act 53 relieved the Pennsylvania Lottery of the 30% minimum return. The new minimum return was established to 27%, which should help the Lottery to increase sales and net profit.
Pennsylvania decided to privatize its Lottery in 2012, and the proposals were open for global organizations. The only bid came from the UK company Camelot Global Services. The bidding deadline was lengthened so the lottery employees could introduce a competing offer. It didn't happen, and the UK company was chosen to operate the Pennsylvania lottery for $34 billion. But in 2013, there was strong opposition from voters, which created intense political pressure, so the Pennsylvania state government abandoned this plan.
The Pennsylvania lottery presently offers scratch-offs and a variety of standard lottery draw games, such as Mega Millions, Powerball, Treasure Hunt, Wild Ball, Millionaire Raffle, Xpress Sports and Keno. The recent passing of the iGaming bill allowed the Lottery to launch a new website called Pennsylvanian iLottery, which offers 25 casino-style games. The gameplay and style are very similar to slot machines, but their continuous availability relies upon the result of the lawsuit that the local casinos raised.
Even though the sports wagering industry is flourishing in Pennsylvania, it hit a record of over $615 million in 2021. Esports betting is still not allowed. The bookmakers in the state are still waiting for approval to start accepting wagers on professional video games. There has been no effort to legalize eSports betting in the state, notwithstanding that video games are increasing in popularity. Regardless, the Pennsylvania eSports coalition is not losing hope that the legislators will pay attention to the eSports industry very soon.
Pennsylvanian Small Games of Chance Act from 1988 regulates land-based bingo games, which are generously widespread throughout the entire state because of negligible licensing fees, which begin at $100 for charitable organizations.
Pennsylvania iLottery website offers a bingo-style game, but its continuation relies upon the lawsuit result. The latest Pennsylvanian iGaming act neglects online bingo, so it's been connected to video poker and slots. It means that when licensed internet casinos begin in Pennsylvania, the bingo games will launch there as well.
Other Forms of Gambling in Pennsylvania
Horse Racing in Pennsylvania was the first type of gambling to be legalized by the Race Horse Industry Reform Act in 1959. The first open race track was Meadows Racetrack in 1963. Nowadays, horse racing is very popular and attracts many spectators as well as competitors. There are five premium horse racing facilities in Pennsylvania for the harness and thoroughbred racing events year-round. The leading racecourse in Pennsylvania is Philadelphia Park which hosts the prestigious Pennsylvania Derby. Online and phone horse race betting are also legal.
Both Pennsylvania State Commissions for Harness Racing and Horse Racing belongs under the authority of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and are responsible for overseeing the horse racing industry and ensuring the wellbeing of the riders and their horses.
Land-based casinos in Pennsylvania
The top 3 rated casinos in Pennsylvania are Parx Casino and Racing and Harrah's Philadelphia Casino, which falls under the racino category. The third one is Mount Airy Casino Resort which falls under the standalone casino category.
Parx Casino and Racing
Parx Casino and Racing is the most popular casino and one of the largest casinos in the state, with a gaming space bigger than 150,000 square feet and a speciality of continuous gaming with no limit. It is located less than 30 minutes away from Philadelphia's City Center and is operated by Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment. Since its opening in 2009, Parx Casino has been thriving ever since because it offers more than 3,000 slot machines, 130 live gaming tables, 40 table poker rooms and sports betting, plus live and broadcast racing action.
Parx sportsbook has an area of 7400 square feet which contains seating for around 200 people, 3 VIP areas with a full bar, a 156-foot wall of video screens, 18 kiosks, and six live tellers. Parx consistently exceeds its rival casinos in the area of net income.
Harrah's Philadelphia Casino
Harrah's Philadelphia is a beautiful casino owned by Caesars Entertainment Corporation and located on the waterfront in Chester. The gaming space is more than 100,000 square feet, offering numerous table games and more than 2,000 slot and video poker machines.
The racino offer life harness-races which are broadcasted live daily. In 2019, Harrah's Philadelphia opened 4,300-square-foot sportsbook on the main casino floor, which offers 45 big-screen TVs, 19 stadium-style seats, a party pit with table games, and a full bar.
Mount Airy Casino Resort
Mount Airy Casino Resort combines a casino, modern lodge-style hotel, 18-hole championship golf course with 6,500 yards of greenland, and various live entertainment establishments such as a luxurious spa, salon and gourmet dining. It is located on Mount Pocono.
Mount Airy Casino Resort has more than enough to keep visitors over 21 highly occupied. The gaming space itself contains 62,000 square feet, with over 1800 slot machines and more than 70 types of table games, including blackjack, craps, poker, baccarat, and roulette.
The sportsbook shares 7000 square feet with a 12 table PokerStars poker room and features eight kiosks, 40 state-of-the-art TVs and luxury lounge seating. The highlight of this resort is the impressive indoor and outdoor pool which includes poolside lounges and a cocktail bar, and on weekends it changes into the Get Wet Nightclub.