Is Sports Betting Legal in Pennsylvania?

The way that Pennsylvania is moving, legalized sports betting is inevitable. However, there are a lot of i’s to dot and t’s to cross. It seems hardly coincidental that every major city in Pennsylvania seems to have at least one i or one t. In any event, Pennsylvania is moving quickly, but the state has also made it very hard to get set up in short order. In fact, a rather short-sighted policy is holding up progress.

Per PennLive, operators are forced to pay $10 million licensing fee in order to get set up and Pennsylvania has an astronomically high tax rate of 34 percent for sports betting proceeds. One of the side effects to the strike down of PASPA and the mainstream media interest in sports betting is that those that do understand the industry have figured out how little those outside of it actually know. The average hold percentage for the sportsbook is about 4 to 6 percent of the handle. Between integrity fees, licensing fees, and this exorbitant tax rate from the state, there isn’t a whole lot of incentive for operators like MGM or William Hill to open up shop. Even though Pennsylvania is fifth in population and has two huge cities close to borders, those dollars still aren’t enticing enough to overcome the huge asking price from the state.

That puts Pennsylvania in a holding pattern. With New Jersey and Delaware already open for operations and New York likely to come some time in the next 18 months, Pennsylvania is going to have to figure this thing out and fast. For those that prefer a glass half-full approach, at least it seems like the initial “Should we legalize sports betting?” phase is well in the rearview mirror. Now, it’s a matter of getting the elected officials and the state to come down from its high demands of the casinos and the operators. In all actuality, for a lot of states, the easy part is getting gambling on the books. It’s simply a matter of revenue. Finding a balance between the operators and the state is the much harder part and the hold-up in most states.


Recent News Stories About Sports Betting

One of the best pieces of journalism on the legalization of sports betting came from the Philly Voice, where Joseph Santoliquito spoke with those in the know about the high fees and what it means for the operators.

How much will sports betting bring in revenue for the states? Less than most people would expect. Jamie Martines talked about that for the Pittsburgh Tribune.

Pennsylvania is moving so fast because the state introduced a bill in 2017 with the hope that PASPA would be struck down and, as we know, it was. The Legal Sports Report had that covered last October.

New Jersey opened for betting on June 14, but there is no timetable for Pennsylvania as of yet.

While everybody decides the best way to proceed, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is hard at work on what the policies and procedures will look like, as PennLive covered on May 30.

Penn State President Eric Barron has asked the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to keep in-state college sports off of the betting card for at least two years. New Jersey correctly does the same thing.

First it was “integrity fees”. Now it’s money for ballpark renovations. Per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pirates want a piece of sports betting revenues in order to make improvements to PNC Park.



Pennsylvania has basically already legalized sports betting. Now we’re just waiting to see how it will be enforced and implemented. Something with have to change with the fees and the tax rates, otherwise Pennsylvania will be sitting on a large amount of revenue without anybody to generate it.


Neighboring States



New Jersey

New York


West Virginia