What Has Sports Betting Legislation Done for Pennsylvania’s Economy?

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If you live in Pennsylvania and find sports betting to be a great source of entertainment, you surely already know that this activity has been legal since late 2018. However, are you aware of the enormous effects that it has had on the state’s economy? Keep on reading as we delve into the details.

A Brief History of Gambling in Pennsylvania

Before the Keystone State’s legislation got to where it currently is, the first type of gambling that was legalized in PA was horse racing, back in 1959. 

After that, the state lottery became legal. It all started with Act 91 of 1971 as a way to provide property tax relief to persons that were 65 and older. In March 1972, the first game launched and the following year, two more games were added.

With these ways of gambling legal and thriving, there was a push for casino gambling as well in the 1980s and 1990s. The plan to open casinos in the Pocono Mountains Resort Area did not go through, mostly due to the apprehension that gambling only leads to corruption and crime. Several other attempts to legalize gambling on riverboats in state waterways failed, even though it was acknowledged that this could bring more money into Pennsylvania.

Then, in 2004, Act 71 was passed and legalized casinos and racetracks in PA. This decision helped Pennsylvania become the second-largest casino state, after Nevada. Taking this into consideration, it should not come as a surprise that the state legalized online gambling as well as gambling at airports and truck stops in October of 2017.

Finally, once PASPA was struck down in 2018, Pennsylvania made sports betting legal as well, while fantasy betting was available from 2017.

Where Can a Pennsylvanian Place a Wager?

As a Pennsylvanian looking to place a wager, you have many places to turn to. Plenty of land-based sportsbooks are accepting bets and they are usually located at casinos and racetracks around the state. Among others, these include Parx Casino, Rivers Casino Philadelphia, Mount Airy Casino Resort, Mohegan Sun Pocono, The Meadows Racetrack and Casino, and Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.

When it comes to sports betting in PA, your choices are countless. From the NFL and the NBA to golf and tennis, you can place a wager on the sport of your choice. However, keep in mind that betting on high school sports and esports is still illegal. Moreover, look up reputable sportsbooks on reliable websites that specialize in sports betting as you don’t want to use illegal ones. In addition to putting yourself in danger as you could lose your money, you could also be fined by the PA Gambling Authority.

Is Mobile Betting Available?

Yes, online and mobile betting is also available. Seeing as how online gambling was available even before sports betting was legal, Pennsylvania took the opportunity to provide its residents with a convenient option to place their wagers.

However, it is important for online sportsbooks to have a physical location in order to be able to operate in Pennsylvania. That is why online operators partner up with land-based partners that we listed above. Among the eight sportsbooks that currently operate in PA, some of the biggest names include Unibet, DraftKings, FanDuel, SugarHouse, and William Hill US.

It’s easy to download a mobile app where you can make bets once you’ve created an account and deposited some money into it. Just pay attention to how you can withdraw your money and look for the option that suits you most.

What Have Been the Benefits of Legalization?

When we take a look at the fact that the state lottery was legalized as a way to find a new source of tax revenue, it’s no surprise that the gambling expansion was introduced with the same goal. From requiring operators to pay a $10,000,000 license fee to taxing their revenue at 36%, the economic boost that PA has managed to create with the legalization of gambling is no small feat. 

For example, in 2020, sports betting in Pennsylvania generated more than $224 million in revenue, almost $70 million of which accounted for taxes. In addition to increasing tax revenue, the gambling sector is also creating thousands of new jobs and improving the state’s tourism rates.

What Does the Future Hold?

With the repeal of PASPA, Pennsylvania took advantage of the possibility to legalize sports betting. There are more sportsbooks looking to join the field and are waiting on the state’s approval. While the income was smaller in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this industry is still fresh so it’s expected to grow further.

From creating more jobs and boosting the economy to providing its residents with great entertainment, Pennsylvania’s decision to legalize sports betting was a great one.