The Pennsylvania legislature is more open than ever to online vegas games, brick-and-mortar casino entertainment and sports betting activities in a state whose official motto is "pursue your happiness." Multiple new initiatives are set to join the existing gambling options that citizens of Pennsylvania and visitors to the state already enjoy.
Pennsylvania is one of the first states in the United States to offer sports-betting at land-based Pennsylvania casinos and the first Pennsylvania brick-and-mortar casino has now applied for its sports-betting license.
Pundits had their doubts as to whether the casinos in Pennsylvania would get into sports betting, given the state's high sports-betting tax (36%) and demand for a $10 million licensing fee. But last week the operator of the Hollywood Casino, which is located at Penn National Race Course in Dauphin County, applied for a sports betting license. That application is likely to trigger new petitions by other casino operators.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is scheduled to consider Hollywood's application at its October 3rd meeting. That means that sports wagering will not be in place in time for the NFL season kickoff on September 6th. The Hollywood Casino's sportsbook will be operated by William Hill's USA affiliate which announced that its sportsbook would launch "later this fall."
William Hill is moving into the American sports betting industry, establishing partnerships with American casinos that want to offer sports betting opportunities and engaging in mergers with partners such as FanDuel, the sports fantasy gaming site. William Hill already operates two sports-betting sites in New Jersey.
Pennsylvania's Gaming Control Board approved the final installment of temporary regulations to govern sports betting in Pennsylvania. The regulations state that sports betting activities must take place at one of the state's 13 licensed casinos.
William Hill and Hollywood Casino officials had been very critical of the high taxes and fees that Pennsylvania was demanding as part of its sports betting law. The licensing fee and 36% tax rate is the nation's highest – to compare, New Jersey's rate is 13 percent for online sports betting and 8.5 percent for sports wagering in casinos.
State legislators however, were confident that casinos would accept the status quo and the Hollywood Casino's action, which is expected to foreshadow the actions of other casinos, seems to confirm the Penn legislators' view. The Mount Airy Casino Resort in the Poconos has signed with the Stars Group of Canada to run its online wagering and Parx Casino in Bensalem is planning on partnering with GAN, a London-based gaming firm, to run its on-site and online sportsbooks.
Fred Lipkin, Hollywood Casino's vice president of marketing, said "We believe this will provide us another attractive amenity at Hollywood Casino, in addition to our full suite of the latest slot machines, table games, multiple dining outlets, exciting live racing and soon to be online gaming offerings."" Lipkin said.
Fines for Two Pennsylvania Casinos
Two Pennsylvania casinos were hit with six-figure fines after the state's Gaming Board's Office of Enforcement agreed to close several cases against them for "various infractions."
The Gaming Board announced that it had levied fines against the Washington Trotting Association's Meadows Racetrack and Casino due to "complimentary services" issued by employees that employees delivered to select patrons over an 8 year period. The fine totaled $80,000 and was assessed because, according to Pennsylvania state law, only select employees are authorized to provide a specified amount of complimentary services. .
Another $80,000 in fines was assessed against Valley Forge Casino Resort. One fine was levied for infractions that included “Failure to maintain reliable and accurate financial records, including ensuring access, record and compare its assets, conducting regular audits and ensuring segregation of audit functions and responsibilities,” and “Failure to safeguard its revenues and assets."
An additional $30,000 fine was given because the operator did nor follow its framework and rules governing Spanish 21, a type of blackjack.
Currently Pennsylvania has ten stand-alone and racetrack casinos. The state also has two small resort casinos. Casino revenue to the state is estimated at $1.4 billion annually.
Pennsylvania is one of 7 US states to have approved sports betting. Pennsylvania law states that sports betting may only take place at land-based venues and will require a $10 million application fee and 36% tax assessment on revenue.
The Pennsylvania lottery recently launched a keno game and it is preparing to further expand lottery offerings with a pair of virtual sports games that give players the chance to compete for $250 by guessing the outcome of random draws.
Draws for the new Xpress Car Racing and Xpress Football titles will take place every 5 minutes Participants can view the draws in real time on big screen TV at any of the 1500 locations that have been set up around the state.
According to the lottery, Xpress Football gives players the chance to attempt to predict the outcome of a drive from the 20-yard line in a virtual game of American football. Players can pick from one of 16 possible scenarios. Situations include a scoring pass, a touchdown run, a turnover or a field goal.
The new Xpress Car Racing title provides a similar type of game. Punters predict the top three finishers in a virtual race Like Xpress Football, players can forecast the exact order of the first, second and third-place runners in up to 20 games. The games are expected to be a big hit and, according to Drew Svitko, Executive Director for the Pennsylvania Lottery, to "build on the strong start seen by keno and to be a big hit with our players."
"The games are part of our continuing mission to modernize our business and generate new funds to benefit older Pennsylvanians. We’re continuing to add new monitors at stores, bars, clubs and restaurants. If you don’t see these games offered at your favorite stop or hang-out, encourage the business to apply to become a Pennsylvania Lottery retailer.”