The state of Pennsylvania (PA), like many other states in the US, is going through an accelerated period of change due to the overturning of legislation by the Supreme Court on a Federal ban that was put in place in 2006.
Update: It has been officially confirmed that legalized online casinos and poker wiill be launching mid July this year! Online sports betting will be even sooner and is expected to available within weeks!
(Source: Penn Live)
In 2017 Pennsylvania officially became the fourth state after Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey to legalize online gambling. In the coming year of 2019, we anticipate that online gambling will be formally operational, with the proper framework and governance in place for this state.
In the meantime, if you do intend to gamble online then we recommend playing at the following sites:
Top 3 Pennsylvania Online Casinos
Offering a risk free $200 credit to all new players, FanDuel Casino has to be #1 on our list. Originally known for their sportsbook, their casino platform is just as impressive with an extremely diverse gaming catalogue. The only downside is that they are are mobile only platform
Offering a risk free $35 for new players, DraftKings casino is a must try with nothing to lose. Originally a sportsbook only, their casino platform has grown into an impressive catalogue encompassing slots, table games and live dealers.
Number 3 on our list is Unibet casino who offer a $10 free chip on sign up for new players. Featuring a diverse gaming catalogue including slots, blackjack, table games, progressives, video poker and more, Unibet are definitely one to check out.
When do we expect licensed online casino games to be available?
Online casinos games, also known as interactive gaming is now confirmed to be available in July 2019. Online casino games, composing of both web and smartphone mobile gaming, requires an enormous amount of effort of process integrity, auditing and compliance relative to a brick and mortar casino.
A brick and mortar casino can quickly be validated with the physical and tangible assets. An online platform, on the other hand, is less transparent and is more complicated to audit. With this in mind, the PGCB has since approved ten PA casinos for interactive gaming licenses however it requires sufficient time to review processes and therefore only till first half 2019 do we expect online gambling to begin being offered.
The ten casinos that have an approved license are:
- Harrah’s Philadelphia
- Hollywood Casino
- Mohegan Sun Pocono
- Parx Casino
- Presque Isle Downs
- Mount Airy Casino
- Sands Bethlehem
- Sugar House Casino
- Valley Forge Casino
- Stadium Park Philly Live! Casino
In the meantime, the 3 recommended offshore online casinos above (Bovada, Slots.lv and Vegas Casino Online) are sufficient substitutes for those looking to play at an online casino today which do not impose any legal ramifications for players.
History of the PA Legal Landscape
During April 2018, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) asked 13 state casinos who had existing land-based casino licenses to apply for online gaming licenses which would allow them to offer poker, slots, blackjack, craps and other table games at a license fee of $10 million. You would have thought that there would have been a rush of applications, however it has been the complete opposite. In July 2018, only a handful of potential applicants formally registered an interest.
The low and slow uptake was deemed to be due to the large tax percentage (54%) imposed on takings on the potential licensee. Another point of concern for casinos was that controversially the PA Lottery was pushing a suite of games beyond lotto, offering 11 iLottery games which could be considered as online gaming. Thus infringing on the market of the online casino operators.
Subsequently in August 2018 a rush of applications were formally submitted for online gaming licenses, a total of 11 to be approved by the PCGB.
Adding to the growing protests by online casino applicants, the PA Lottery began offering demo’s (free to play with no risk) to age 18 and older players which is younger than the age limit for casino operators which is 21 or older. This difference in regulation is fiercely being criticized by casino operators whom have applied for the licenses, calling for the removal of double standards.
List of Pennsylvania Casinos and Racinos
Currently, as it stands, there are 13 gambling venues, a mixture of racinos, stand-alone casinos and resort casinos. Although yet to formally offer online gambling, this state is quite progressive and offers a wide suite of gambling options for patrons.
Please note, online gambling has been approved, but formal licenses have yet to be issued which is anticipated to occur in the near future. Below is a listing of gaming venues and a brief review.
777 Harrah’s Blvd, Chester, PA 19013
A good selection of over 2,000 slots (including progressives), table games including Blackjack, Craps, Roulette and more and a large dedicated poker room of 28 tables. Also has live harness-racing which are telecast daily for big meets or track races.
Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course
777 Hollywood Blvd, Grantville, PA 17028
Onsite live horse racing, a great venue for all ages. Their casino has a whopping 2,377 gaming machines including video slots and video poker. They also have over 50 and 17 poker tables and a great rewards program for loyal patrons.
Their live entertainment is also fantastic with regular live bands and performances. Highly recommended racino to enjoy!
Mohegan Sun Pocono
A plethora of table games (over 90) and slot machines (over 2,300). Slots titles include Agent: Magnifying Jackpots, Tarzan, James Bond – Goldfinder, Dancing Foo Helix XT, Rising Guardian, Rising Panda and more. They also have a designated poker room with over 18 tables, with regular daily tournaments.
Coupled with their casino entertainment they also have live harness racing and simulcast racing. Fantastic fine dining, although touted to be a little bit pricey. Overall, this is a great place to chill and to relax for all ages.
Parx Casino and Racetrack
Known as being the largest casino gaming complex in Pennsylvania, Parx Casino and Racing is also a horse racing venue owned by Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment.
Located only a 20 minutes north of Philadelphia. 260,000 square foot for the casino and 280,000 square foot for the horse racing, it is huge. Open 24hrs, this venue has live and simulcast racing, a staggering amount of slot machines (over 3,330!), 180 table games, and a dedicated poker room of 60 poker tables. If you can’t get a seat at the poker table, then you’ve probably gone to the wrong place. It’s massive! An awesome place to feel the action both for casino and the horse racing. Definitely check this place out if you are in the area!
Presque Isle Downs & Casino
8199 Perry Hwy, Erie, PA 16509
A great casino in Pennsylvania that is not overly massive but not small either. A good selection of 1,500 slots and table games, however the poker room is a little small. They do however have regular promotions, events and tournaments.
If you get tired of playing the casino games you can head over to the race track which is awesome and very clean. Staff provide excellent quality service and make it an enjoyable time for all.
Mount Airy Casino Resort
This casino surprises plenty of first comers on the upside! Super clean, beautiful atmosphere, design and layout. Boasting a decent catalog of over 1,800 slots, 70 table games and a dedicated poker room of 9 tables , this casino is a decent venue for those in the area.
77 Sands Blvd, Bethlehem, PA 18015
One of the very few venues that have a mall! Live concerts and great music while gambling on the floor. They have a diverse selection of slots, table games (over 200!) and a dedicated poker room that has 26 tables.
Great promotions are also on offer on a regular basis with tournaments, jackpots and more.
Patrons are frequent visitors, well worthwhile giving this casino a go if you haven’t been before.
Overall a fun place to spend a couple of hours or more. Lots of table card games and slots to play and comps are pretty good. If you’re a poker fan, their poker room caters for all variations including Texas Hold’em, Omaha-High, Omaha-High-Low Split Eight or Better, Seven Card Stud-High, Seven Card Stud-Low, Seven Card Stud High-Low Split and Seven Card Stud-High-Low Split Eight or Better. They are also one of very few casinos in PA to offer live sports betting.
The food is priced reasonably and the staff are very friendly and professional. They do have live performances and regular events on a weekly basis. Beautiful location, with a view to Benjamin Franklin bridge. The atmosphere hits the mark, have a drink or two and chill outside in the heart of the city.
Valley Forge Casino Resort
1210 1st Ave, King of Prussia, PA 19406, USA
Launched in 2012, this is a small’ish casino which offers 600 slot machines and 50 table games. A small fun casino to go to with a decent variety of promotions offered on a regular basis including sweepstakes, blackjack tournaments, slot tournaments and more. Really knowledgeable and great staff. Close to shopping mall, location is extremely convenient. A great venue to drop by.
Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin
4067 National Pike, Farmington, PA 15437, USA
A smallish casino and is a bit quieter than other casinos but the staff tend to be quite friendly nonetheless. For a small venue, they do have a great selection of 27 table games including Blackjack, Baccarat, Craps, Roulette and more. Unfortunately, their slots catalog isn’t as impressive with only 600 to choose from including video poker and keno.
Promotions and tournaments are quite frequent which is great for new and regular patrons. The food is quality and won’t burn a hole in your wallet although they only have two restaurants to choose from at the moment. A
A small cover charge of $10 is required for entry.
A HUGE selection of slot machines and poker machines (over 2,900 in total!) there are literally over thousands of games to choose from. Their table game catalog is also impressive with over 100 games to choose from. Their poker room is also quite impressive with 30 tables available at any given time.
They have also recently opened up a new sports betting area with over 10 TVs broadcasting your favorite events.
The dealers and staff are all very professional and friendly. Another one of the top rated casinos in Pennsylvania.
The Meadows Racetrack & Casino
The casino is relatively large and offers over 3,000 gaming machines which include Video Poker and Slots (titles include Lightning Link, Chili Chili Fire, Buffalo Gold, 88 Fortunes and more).
They also have a great diversity of table games offering over 65 options which include your standard Blackjack, Craps, Baccarat, Roulette and more. Poker is also available with 14 tables at any given time.
In addition, there is great entertainment, live bands and performances and excellent restaurants serving top-notch cuisines.
The Pennsylvania Lottery is uniquely the only US lottery that invests all of its revenue generated into senior citizen programs. These programs include services, meals and meal delivery, subsidized transport, aged care and residential support. Over $20 billion has been reinvested into these programs since the lottery started in 1971.
There is a wide variety of lotto offered, stand-alone within the state and also partaking with the federal lotto, Mega Millions and Powerball.
What is also very interesting is that the PA Lottery doesn’t only just offer the vanilla lotto draws, but it also offers online games in which will be in direct competition to what is anticipated to also be launched by casinos once their online gambling licenses are approved.
The launch of the online games in June 2018 has been branded as iLottery games, and there are currently 11 games on offer. Needless to say, there has been a backlash from casino operators that this is unjust and the PA Lottery should remove offering online games which will be in direct competition to theirs.
In addition t,he PA Lottery has an advantage over the land-based casinos by paying no tax. Land-based casinos must pay 54% in tax to the state.
Keno is also available via the Pennsylvania Lottery. This was made legal in October 2017 and went live in May 2018. Keno can be easily played at any PA Lottery Retailer.
The draws are offered every 4 minutes with winnings of $100,000 or more. To see the results of each round, PA Lottery offers a facility online called the Keno drawing animation. Basically, this is a web page showing the latest and past results so you can keep up with each draw.
Gambling Laws and Legislation
Pennsylvania residents interested in placing bets through the Internet can rejoice as the state is leading the way for online gamblers. Sports betting, online gaming on traditional casino games (poker, slots, and card games), online lotteries, and video gaming terminals are all legal in the state both for players and operators. (HB 271). Many other types of gambling are also legal in the state, including charitable bingo games, all games of chance (raffles, pull tabs, and punch boards), the state lottery, licensed casinos, horse racing, and antique slot machines. See 18 Pa.C.S. § 5513.
Sports Betting: Sports betting is permitted in Pennsylvania with many licensed domestic and offshore platforms accepting bets from Pennsylvania residents on fantasy, pro, and collegiate sports matches, including FanDuel, DraftKings, and more. SugarHouse PA was the first licensed Pennsylvania-based platform to open, starting operations in May 2019.
Race Betting: Like in many states, horse betting is legal in Pennsylvania at its racing tracks as well as other venues that allow pari-mutuel betting. The licensed domestic platforms of TGV, BetAmerica, and TwinSpires all operate in the state.
Online Gambling & Gaming: Both online gambling and the placing of online bets on skills of game are permitted in Pennsylvania through licensed domestic and offshore platforms with the first online casinos going live in July 2019. Online lottery participation is available through iLottery.
Pennsylvania, the fifth most populated state in the US, is on the verge of breaking through the current anti-online gambling laws. Online gambling will soon be available in the coming year, if not months (note: the PA Lottery is already offering online gaming in advance of casino operators that have applied for an online gaming license).
This state is one of the most progressive states in the US residing near the northeastern coast neighboring Delaware and New Jersey, two states which have already passed online gambling laws. There is a lot of action happening in this state! Dynamic to say the least!