Pennsylvania is taking major strides towards a legalized sports betting framework. On top of Governor Tom Wolf signing a sports betting bill into law, a new casino set for launch in Philadelphia could host single-game betting options. Live! Hotel and Casino Philadelphia has been greenlighted for construction after overcoming several bureaucratic and logistic obstacles. The casino will be the 13th in the state and the 4th in the greater Philadelphia area.
The new law signed by Governor Wolf not only supports sports gambling, but also legalizes online poker and casinos in the state. This ambitious legislative move puts PA with New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada as the only states to offer legal online gambling. There are other legal online betting options, but these are licensed offshore. Per the law, sports betting would technically not be allowed unless the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), the federal ban on sports betting in the United States, is repealed. There is an ongoing case with the US Supreme Court and the state of New Jersey that could see PASPA be stricken down. If this happens, states like Pennsylvania that have drafted and signed legislation supporting legal sports gambling, would be the first to be able to offer legal wagering options to residents.
Philly’s Live! Casino is in a great location—close to the major sports stadiums. There are 4 professional franchises in Philadelphia including the Eagles (NFL), 76ers (NBA), Flyers (NHL) and Phillies (MLB). If Live! Casino features a sportsbook (which wouldn’t be hard given a sports betting license will cost $10 million), fans will be able to place bets steps away from where their favorite teams play. Mobile betting is also possible under the new betting law, which would potentially allow bettors to place wagers from inside stadiums. As of now, only the Las Vegas Golden Knights feature in-stadium mobile betting, but Pennsylvania could soon model their approach.
The major professional sports leagues have been notoriously against legalizing sports betting for years, but some have begun crossing to the other side. For example, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said in writing that he believes sports gambling should be legal and regulated. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has said he has entertained the idea of legal betting and has even discussed its possibility with team owners. The NFL has been vehemently opposed to betting, but partnerships with Daily Fantasy Sports operators and their moving the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas contradicts their position. The NHL brought a franchise to Las Vegas, where betting is legally allowed, so they do not seem too concerned with the matter.
Still, the decision lies with the Supreme Court. Oral arguments are set to begin in late December and the case is expected to roll into 2018. Pending a successful outcome, PA will be one of the first states with a fully functional sports betting framework. All other states will be scrambling to put regulations in place while Pennsylvania sits back and rakes in the additional revenue stream. For now, PA residents can find legal online sports betting through licensed US friendly offshore sportsbooks.