Michael McKean is an experienced writer with a portfolio that includes work on the subjects of sport, gambling, travel and finance. With a background rooted in journalism, Michael first ventured into the professional writing world based in Switzerland, where he wrote for a number of language and travel sites and magazines before moving into the world of sports writing and gambling sites.
As an avid soccer fan, who follows everything from the Scottish lower leagues to the European elites, he has earned himself a solid reputation as a reliable football betting tipster and predictor. Outside of work, Michael has always gotten involved with grassroutes football everywhere he has worked and lived - UK, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland and Brazil - and still isn’t shy when it comes to pulling the boots on himself. As well as soccer, he has also developed a love of North American sports, particularly ice hockey - a love which began in Switzerland and saw him venture across the pond to follow the NHL. Moving away from dry land, he’s also a keen longboard surfer and is happiest when writing with a view of the ocean.
Is Online Gambling Legal in Pennsylvania?
While it took some time, Pennsylvania currently has some of the best gambling and casino options compared to other states in the country. However, with so many options available, picking the best online gambling Pennsylvania site becomes overwhelming.
With gambling sites and legal requirements frequently changing, keeping tabs on the legal gambling landscape is challenging. Our guide will help you understand sports betting, online poker, casino gaming, and other gambling options legally available in PA, as well as choose the best online gambling sites in Pennsylvania.
The legal status quo in Pennsylvania – is gambling legal?
Is online gambling legal in Pennsylvania? To answer this, let’s take a look at the current status and the events that lead up to it. While gambling laws by state vary, Pennsylvania is one of the few states with growth in its gambling market. These developments are attributed to the presence of a good legal framework that guides online gambling in PA.
Pennsylvania has a short gambling history. Currently, gambling laws in Pennsylvania have legalized casino games, sports betting, lottery, poker, bingo, and online gambling. The government first legalized the lottery in 1971, which has since grown into one of the largest lotteries in the U.S, pulling more than $4 billion in revenues annually.
In 1972, a year later, the state held the first race court opens, which increased the popularity of horse betting. Other advancements were made, including the legalization of table games in 2010. In 2013, the first attempt to regulate online gambling was made but failed to pass the court. However, the breakthrough came in 2018 when online gambling was officially made legal and the Pennsylvania Gambling Commission was established.
As such, you can now lawfully enjoy sports betting and various casino games provided the operator doesn't violate regulations set by the PGCB. Note that the agency doesn't oversee non-profit lotteries and gambling operations.
Sports betting in Pennsylvania – history, where to play, and online sportsbooks
Unlike gambling in AZ, sports betting is among the legal online gambling Pennsylvania games live at racetracks, casinos, and multiple satellite locations across the state. The first attempt to legalize sports betting in PA casinos was sponsored by Rep Rick Kotik in September 2015.
The second attempt came in April 2017 when Rep. Rob Matzie resolved to repeal the PASPA and drafted regulations for the state to legalize sports betting. However, it was until October 2017 when the senate and Pennsylvania House began the back and forth games of passing this bill, called the HB 271 amendments.
Fortunately, after multiple drafts and versions, Gov. Tom Wolf signed them into law. However, despite passing the bill into law, Pennsylvania needed Supreme Court help to overturn the active federal ban on sports betting in other states except for Nevada. The Supreme Court granted PA its wishes in May 2018, allowing HB 271 to take full effect.
With these laws in action, any of the 12 licensed casinos in Pennsylvania could apply for sports betting licenses and open their sportsbooks. Legalized sports betting finally went live in Pennsylvania on 17th November 2018, with the Hollywood Casino becoming the first legal wagers.
The PlaySugarHouse became the first casino to launch an online sportsbook on 28th May 2019, followed by BetRivers and Parx a month later. Other major developments in Pennsylvania's sports betting include the introduction of the first online sportsbook app with an integrated wallet by FanDuel on 22nd July 2019, which made it easy for betters in New Jersey and Pennsylvania to bet using the same app and accounts. DraftKings, FanDuel's main rival, joined the Pennsylvania market in November.
Unfortunately, the online gambling Pennsylvania market for sports betting may not develop as it has in other states, such as New Jersey, because of the high tax rates and $10 million compulsory licensing fees.
The comparison table below outlines our top 5 sportsbooks in Pennsylvania.
Casino gaming in Pennsylvania – real money casino games in Pennsylvania
Casinos are among the online gambling Pennsylvania games that are up and running legally. Anyone aged 21 years and above can enjoy a wide selection of table games, online slots, and video poker from their mobile devices or desktop computers. However, the legality of casino gaming in Pennsylvania came after several struggles.
The Resort Casino Hotel was opened in 1978 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, making it the first legally operating casino in Atlantic City. However, the casino was only 60 miles from Philadelphia, and it quickly became clear that Pennsylvania residents were among the great customers of the budding casino industry in Atlantic City.
Following this, efforts by then-mayor Wilson Goode and his successor Ed Rendell to legalize casino gambling in Riverboat Philadelphia were shot down by the House of Representatives in 1991. A state survey done in 1994 concluded that 48% of state residents supported legalized Riverboat gambling while 38% opposed the idea. Unfortunately, the then-governor was opposed to this idea and promised to veto any gambling legislation in the state.
The breakthrough came in 2004 when lawmakers in the House and the Senate passed the bill and hurriedly made a law before serious protagonists could attack it. The bill offered three categories of slot machine licenses. Since then, many other amendments and changes have been made to suit the changing industry.
Most casinos allow players to use their demo modes or money chips to learn before getting into real gambling. Currently, only 13 casinos are licensed to offer casino games legally offering online slot games, table games, live dealer casinos, video poker, and novelty games.
That said, below is our comparison of the top 5 casino gambling sites in Pennsylvania. Read through the comparison table to understand how various operators differ in bonuses, deals, and loyalty schemes.
Online poker in Pennsylvania – best poker sites for real money
Nearly all the known and well-established online poker sites have been legalized in Pennsylvania. However, with online gambling Pennsylvania being relatively new, players should take advantage of the offers used by these websites to gain traction amongst their customers. Most of the best online gambling sites in Pennsylvania offer no-deposit bonuses, enticing welcome bonuses, and generous loyalty schemes.
Interestingly, only seven casinos currently have an online poker license, with most of them preferring the package deal. In the package deal, instead of paying $4 million license fee for every game, casinos pay a sum of $10 million to get licenses for multiple casino games, including online slots, online table games, and poker.
Avid poker players may notice that it took some time before online poker sites appeared in Pennsylvania, even after the HB 271 act was passed. This is because licensed operators prioritized casinos and sports betting, which considerably have more revenues.
You can refer to the comparisons below to help you choose the most suitable operator for you.
Fantasy sports in Pennsylvania – best legal DFS sites
The presence of sports and gambling fans highly promotes online gambling Pennsylvania. Some of the best sporting teams in the five major sports leagues are from Pennsylvania. Therefore, there is no better way to celebrate their excellence than to draft some local talent into the weekly fantasy sports.
Unfortunately, to date, fantasy sports in Pennsylvania aren't exactly legal. However, this doesn't mean you can't play. Lawmakers in the state have made frantic efforts to legalize and regulate daily fantasy sports in the state. For instance, in 2017, the Pennsylvania House passed a bill that legalized daily fantasy sports in the state, alongside online poker, online table games, slots, and other online gambling Pennsylvania games.
Since the law was passed, fantasy sports have more than 65,000 active players from the state. As of now, it is estimated that these sites gather an approximated $7.5 million in revenue, making Pennsylvania among the top states with fantasy sports activities.
The HB 271 laws regulate several aspects of fantasy sports gaming in Pennsylvania. For instance, it requires operators of these games to verify players' identities, ensure that DFS players are aware of gaming rules and prizes, limit beginner contests, and create proper avenues for dealing with customer issues.
That said, if you are a fantasy sports fan, use the comparison table below to choose your preferred DFS operator.
Social casinos in Pennsylvania – all you should know
Social casinos offer the thrill of regular casinos, such as blackjack and online slots, but with no financial risks. Fortunately, social casinos are legal in all the U.S states. For those who don't know, social casinos resemble traditional online casinos, only that free coins are used for payouts instead of real money.
Social casinos have a wide range of table games and slot machines that can be played from web browsers or social casino apps. The gameplay of social casinos is virtually identical to real-cash slot and table game versions, only that you don't earn real money. Instead, players win virtual credit that they can use to unlock benefits, such as access to new games.
Here are some top social casino sites to check out in Pennsylvania:
House of Fun
Other betting options in Pennsylvania – additional betting options to explore
The main goal of legalizing gambling in Pennsylvania focused on generating revenue, creating more jobs, and improving the economy. Further legislation has made Pennsylvania a robust and comprehensive gambling market, with various betting options. Apart from the sports betting, online poker, social casinos, and fantasy sports mentioned above, other betting options available are:
Horse racing betting – Betting on horse racing was the first form of gambling to be legalized in this Keystone state. The Race Horse Industry Reform Act made online and phone betting on horse cases legal. However, betting on Greyhound racing remains illegal.
Esports – Despite several advancements in the gambling industry, Esports betting in Pennsylvania remains illegal. The PGCB claims that the scope of sports betting in the state does not include Esports betting.
Lotto – Pennsylvania lottery has been available since 1972. Apart from regular games, the state also participates in Mega Millions and Powerball. The amendments under Pennsylvania's gaming expansion legalized the creation of online lotteries, which began in 2018.
Bingo – The Pennsylvania Bingo Law, passed in 1981, legalized betting on Bingo games. The laws allowed for limited gaming in various game types, such as race night games, pools, punchboards, and more.
Editor's recommendation – the best operator for Pennsylvania
As Pennsylvania's gambling market continues to expand, more sites will start operating in this market. Currently, nearly all platforms offer multiple betting options, competitive bonuses, easy payment methods, and many other benefits. However, based on individual assessments, BetMGM Casino is our choice for the best gambling operator in Pennsylvania.
BetMGM has made serious waves in the sportsbooks world, providing excellent gambling apps, industry-leading bonuses, and loyalty schemes. The operator has an unquestionable reputation, not only in Pennsylvania but also in other U.S states. As we compared various betting operators in Pennsylvania, BetMGM stood out from other competitors for several reasons.
For starters, its integrated in-play betting feature makes it easy for players to submit their bets. The platform also has a wide array of casino games and multiple betting markets providing the much needed versatility. You will also like the site’s excellent game quality, user interface, and welcome offers with competitive promotions.
100% up to $1000
T&Cs apply, 18+
Get BetMGM Sport Bonus
What does the future hold for betting and gaming in Pennsylvania?
There have been tremendous developments since PASPA, the law that banned sports betting throughout the U.S, was overturned by the Supreme Court. That event meant all US states have been busy considering their options. Pennsylvania was among the first states to pass its own sports betting laws, whereas online gambling Rhode Island is much farther away from changes taking place. This Keystone State is currently among the few states that have legalized all forms of online gambling.
While sports betting in this state is still developing, the gambling industry has already flourished. Some noteworthy developments in Pennsylvania's betting sector include:
WSOP was finally launched in Pennsylvania. This is an additional option for online poker players.
Cashless retail casino betting is coming to Pennsylvania
Parx casino is expected to launch in Petes and Chester Counties
Conclusion - read our guide to understand online gambling laws in Pennsylvania
As we’ve seen, Pennsylvania is one of the few states that favor sports betting and online gambling. Despite several roadblocks in legalizing online gambling in Pennsylvania, the state has pushed for various reforms and legislation that favors citizens and betting operators. As of now, sports betting, casino gaming, online poker, fantasy sports, horse racing, lottery and many more have been legalized.
We've done much more than look at Pennsylvania. Whether you want to ask "Is online gambling legal in South Dakota?"or ask the same question for your own state, then head over to Captain Gambling to find the answer. In fact, if you want to learn anything at all about the legalization of gambling in the US, then we've got you covered!
Many states legalize some forms of gambling while not allowing others. And some states ban all gambling while others allow all forms, though the latter is uncommon. To get a better understanding of what’s legal and what’s not, have a read through our gambling guides to find out the current status of gambling in PA and the rest of the US.
✔️ Is online gambling legal in Pennsylvania?
Online gambling is not necessarily going to be legal simply because gambling is legal in a state. The online arena comes with its own set of challenges and legal hurdles to overcome. Read through our review of Pennsylvania online gambling sites to find out more. We have also answered other commonly asked questions, such as, "Is online gambling legal in Colorado?" in our handy guides.
🖥️ Must I be a PA resident to bet online?
There are no laws that bar non-PA citizens from sports betting. However, you should physically be within the borders of Pennsylvania to play. Check out our Pennsylvania online betting guide to learn more about how these betting operators work.
🎰 What casino games are available online in Pennsylvania?
To find out if online casinos are legal in PA, and to understand more about whether you can play your favorite casino game, read our helpful online gambling in Pennsylvania review.
❔ Who regulates gambling in Pennsylvania?
In our state-specific gambling guides we cover all aspects of the legal situation, including who oversees any legalized gambling in the state. You can learn everything else you need to know about legal gambling in the US by reading our guides.