Pennsylvania has been one of the most progressive states for legal gambling over the past two decades. The first land-based casino in the state opened in 2004. In 2017, state lawmakers approved legislation for a massive expansion of the gaming industry.
The new gaming laws paved the way for legal sports betting in the Keystone State. A major provision of that law was the establishment of online betting through mobile sportsbook apps.
This aggressive approach to expansion has paid off. In terms of monthly sports betting volume, Pennsylvania continues to hold its position as the third-largest market in the US. New Jersey has the top spot on that list followed by Nevada as the original legal gambling state in the country.
World out of Harrisburg as the PA State Capital is additional legislation aimed at expansion. Pennsylvania Senate Bill 843 would expand legal sports betting to bars, taverns, and restaurants through on-site betting kiosks.
The legislation was introduced by Pittsburgh Senator Wayne Fontana. He is looking to create partnerships between in-state sportsbook operators and retail establishments with PA liquor licenses. Under his proposal, 75% of the gaming revenue would go to the operator. The other 25% would go to the holder of the liquor license.
The benefit to the state would be a $10,000 licensing fee paid by in-state casinos who have a sports wagering license.
Legal sports betting operators in PA such as FanDuel and DraftKings already have a partnership deal in place with in-state casinos.
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Penn National Gaming is a perfect example. This regional gaming and entertainment company has its corporate headquarters based in the state. The company partnered with Barstool Sports to launch the Barstool Sportsbook mobile betting app. PA was the operator’s first market.
There are 14 retail sportsbooks in Pennsylvania at casinos and racetracks. Two more retail books are located in land-based off-track betting facilities. There are also 13 online sportsbooks operating a mobile sports betting app.
The state brought in $308.8 million in sportsbook revenue during the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Sportsbook revenue at retail books accounted for $48.2 million of that total. The total betting volume for the same time frame was $5 billion.
SB 843 would extend legal sports betting to retail establishments through the use of sports wagering certificates They would be issued by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board pending a regulatory review.
The casino partner would pay the $10,000 licensing fee to the state in return for the 75% revenue share. All sports betting would be done through a kiosk as part of a “terminal placement agreement.”
Along with the other 25% of the revenue, each retail account would receive a monthly $100 sitting fee from the casino partner.
The driving force behind the legislation is the current state of the local bar and tavern industry in places such as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. This would be viewed as a win-win for retail accounts and the state.
Since Senator Fontana is a Democrat in a Republican-controlled Senate, he could be facing an uphill battle for passage of this bill. Montana is the only other state with legal sports betting at bars and taverns at this point in time.