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Guide: Online Gambling in Pennsylvania

Millions of players around the world enjoy gambling. As one of the oldest pastimes, gambling gives players a chance to bet on the outcome of games of skill and luck. Today, gamblers have more choices than ever with lavish casino resorts, online betting sites, fruit machines, sportsbook, and beyond.

You might not think of Pennsylvania when it comes to gambling. After all, places like New Jersey and Nevada seem to overshadow this northeastern state. In fact, PA gambling now ranks second in earning the most tax revenue from betting.

Now Pennsylvania gamblers have their full selection of gambling activities. Beyond the Pennsylvania Lottery, residents and visitors of the Keystone State can now take their pic of land-based casinos, online casinos, and sports betting. Online casinos recently became legal in PA as of 2019. Gamblers can easily make money online playing slots, table games, and bingo

Pennsylvania has become known as the gamblers paradise, attracting tourists from far and wide to play or bet. In fact, the PA state turns in millions annually from casinos and sports betting. Between the Pennsylvania lottery, slot machines, bingo, table games, poker, horse racing, and soon, online casinos, the Keystone State has firmly solidified its position as one of the highest-achieving gambling states in the US.

Let’s take a look back at the history of gambling in the Keystone Stone State to discover how it all started…

The Pennsylvania Lottery

Gambling was first introduced to in 1972 when the famous Pennsylvania Lottery started. If you live in or come from the tri-state area, you certainly know the jingle! The PA Lottery generates regular drawings as well as the Powerball run by the Multi-State Lottery Association. Mega Millions and Scratch Cards are also available with the chance of winning big.  In the spring of 2018, Pennsylvania runs a keno lottery game along with their Xpress Sports games which betters can purchase at select retailers.

PA Bingo Games

Starting in 1988, the Pennsylvania Local Option Small Games of Chance Act allowed non-profit Organizations and Profit Taverns to host bingo and other small games of chance. This included pull-tab games, punchboards, raffles, daily drawings, weekly drawings, fifty-fifty drawings (including major league sports drawings), Race Night Games and pools.

Pennsylvania law remained fairly limited for many years in regards to which type of betting was legal, within its borders. Whether in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh or anywhere in between, gamblers wouldn’t legally be permitted to place bets other than the Lottery, charitable gambling and pool betting. If Pennsylvania residents wished to enjoy slots, table games, or any other form of gambling, they would have to travel across the border to New Jersey or Delaware.

However, this restriction changed in 2004 when Pennsylvania lawmakers put in place a law to legalize licensed casinos. Originally, this new law permitted casinos to offer Category 2 Games. Additionally, that same year, the opening of state casinos introduced additional games such as electric bingo, lottery device games and table games such as poker-themed lottery. Developing on from this, the gambling industry identified well-known, successful casinos including Harrah’s (later known as Caesars Entertainment) and Pennsylvania’s Mohegan Sun Casino.

In 2010, Pennsylvania kept the ball rolling by passing new legislation that allowed casinos to offer Category 3 Games. This included table games such as Poker, Blackjack and Roulette as well as Slot Machines. It was after this that the Pennsylvania gambling industry really started booming.

Gambling in Pennsylvania: What’s Legal?

  • Year Pennsylvania regulated offline and online gambling: Offline in 1972 and online started in 2017 with sportsbooks. However, online casinos are available since July 15th, 2019.
  • Pennsylvania gambling age: 18+
  • Legal casino games in Pennsylvania: Online Casinos (as of July 15th, 2019), Sportsbooks and Fantasy Sports
  • Number of commercial casinos: 19 (including “mini-casinos)

2018 represents an important year for the gambling industry in the American market after the US Supreme Court lifted the decade long ban on sports betting. This granted each state government the authority to decide for themselves whether or not to legalize sports betting or not within their borders. Pennsylvania decided, along with several other states, to legalize sports betting.

Now, Pennsylvania casinos and racetracks can offer sports betting at their facilities, under the condition that they obtain legal licensing. The first casinos to receive sports betting licenses were Pennsylvania’s Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, South Philadelphia Turf Club and Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment who are operators of Parx Casino in Bucks County. Pennsylvania sports betting licenses permit punters to place bets on professional and college sports.

Despite the legalization of many types of gambling in PA, illegal betting still occurs. For a long time, bars, underground clubs, truck stops, fire truck social halls, and other hangouts have had their own slots and video poker machines. An estimated 40,000 illegal machines exist within the state. Regardless, the US authorities are yet to shut down the use of these illegal machines.

On top of that, the state has a widespread issue with underground bookmakers. Even though Pennsylvania has already legalized sports betting, many illegal operations exist in efforts to avoid licensing fees and the high 36% state tax on sports betting.

Overall, the games legal include: slots, table games, card games, online sports betting, Lottery, horse racing, social gaming.

Online Casino & Online Poker in Pennsylvania is Legal

Gamblers in Pennsylvania can now enjoy online casinos and sports betting since law enforcement has legalized this. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board awarded the first online gambling license to Sands Casino Resort and it’s pending owner, Alabama-based company, Wind Creek Hospitality.

Pennsylvania Governor, Tom Wolf, signed the online gambling bill into law in 2017. This new legislation makes PA the fourth US state after Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey to legalize online poker and online casinos. Executive Director of the PA Gaming Control Board (PGCB), Kevin O’Toole, announced that the new legal casinos will not launch until mid summer 2019. Some gambling operators have already started developing online casinos with the first Pennsylvania online casinos set to launch from July 15th, 2019 onwards.

How to Choose the Best Online Casino in Pennsylvania

Several casinos have announced their plans to launch gambling sites and betting apps. During the next 5-10 years, there will be a wide variety of available online casinos in Pennsylvania, below are some features to consider when choosing the best.

Firstly, before you register at any Pennsylvania online casino, we suggest starting with the gaming section to find out what casino games you can play. It is important to know what you wish to achieve from playing in order to choose the perfect game for you.

Do you want to play slots or prefer table and card games? Do you want a wide selection of different games? Once you know what you like, you can shop around to find which online casino meets your desires. The best PA online casinos will offer a variety of casino games for you to choose from. Typically, larger online casinos will have a range of classic slots, video slots, progressive games, instant win (scratch cards), lottery, bingo, Blackjack, Roulette, poker, Craps, Baccarat and Keno.

PA Online Casino Welcome Bonus

The majority of online casinos in Pennsylvania will offer a sign up bonus to attract potential customers attention and encourage them to sign up. When it comes to a sign up offer, the bigger the better!

Online casino welcome bonuses usually offer match deposits in which the  gambling site will match your deposit by a percentage. The casino might give away hundreds or even thousands of casino credits in your account on top of your deposit. Often casinos will also give away free spins so you can play slots without betting your own money.

PA Online Casino Promotions

Don’t miss out on casino promotions to take advantage of upcoming and ongoing bonuses. Keep an eye out for casino bonuses like free spins, tournaments, prize giveaways, match deposit offers and refer-a-friend bonuses. By finding the best offers, you’ll end up with lots of extra casino credits and more cash.

VIP Club and Loyalty Programs

If you gamble often already or plan to play like a high-roller, you should join a PA online casino that has a VIP Club or Loyalty Points Program. While similar, they don’t always offer the same player benefits. Here’s a quick run-down:

VIP Club: With  Online casinos give back to exceptional players and high rollers through VIP programs. With VIP Clubs, sometimes players can only join by invitation from the casino. In other cases, the casino requires a player to bet a certain amount in order to qualify. As a VIP, you’ll get outstanding benefits including lucrative VIP bonuses, tickets to events, prize giveaways, dedicated customer support and more.

Loyalty Points Program: Loyal players can get something in return for sticking with a casino. Typically, players automatically join a loyalty points program after making their first bet. Each bet will earn points. As the points add up, the player rises in the ranks of the loyalty levels. Rising to higher levels brings even better rewards.

What Do Other Players Have to Say?

Reading real customer reviews provides an efficient way to assist in your decision making before purchasing just about anything. This also applies for online casinos. Before joining a Pennsylvania online casino, you should read reviews from other players to hear what they have to say.

You can often find player reviews on online casino portals or similar sites. Casino review sites not only share player feedback but also offer a wealth of useful information when it comes to online gambling. You can find out the best odds for online sports betting, read about the latest Pennsylvania online casinos and learn gambling strategy to win more at the casino.

The Bottom Line on Pennsylvania Online Gambling

Although it was as timely process for the Keystone State to join the gambling industry, compared to neighboring states like New Jersey and Delaware, once they began they became very successful. Eventually, by the year 2004, the state PA began to legalize almost all forms of betting.

Now PA has many land-based casinos that operate throughout all four corners of the state. Full-scale casino resorts offer everything from poker rooms and Blackjack tables to slot machines and sports betting. This trend has continued, and law enforcement has already authorized betting options.

Now, gamblers are getting excited about what’s to come. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf already signed the bill to welcome online casinos. Many of the land-based casinos have announced plans to launch online casinos and betting apps due to release in late 2019. The next time you’re in Pennsylvania, make sure to try out all the amazing gambling options available, from slots and poker to blackjack and beyond.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What types of games do Pennsylvania online casinos have available?chevron

A lot will happen in the Keystone State in 2019. Many casinos have already started developing online casino games and apps that will come out in 2019. While none of the betting sites have gone live just yet, gamblers can expect hundreds of slots, table games, sportsbook, and more. A range of apps will come out within the next couple of years, some of which will offer online slots, table games, poker, lottery, live casinos, esports, fantasy sports, and sportsbook. Others may limit their gaming selection to online poker rooms or casino games.

If you wish to gamble online before these larger casinos open, the PA Lottery Online Games have already gone live and take bets on instant win games such as:

Foxin’ Wins, Super Cash Buster, Big Money Slingo, Big Foot Reveal, Crossword Cash, Cash in the Lamp, Super Gems, Robin Hood: Prince of Tweets, Volcano, Monster Wins and Cash Buster Towers. The PA online lottery has already indicated that more games will roll out soon.

Can I play online casino in Pennsylvania if I don’t live there?chevron

According to the Pennsylvania online gambling law, it is not necessary to reside in the state in order to bet online. For example, if you are living in Ohio or Maryland you can visit Pennsylvania and access their online casinos. When doing so, you must ensure you stay within state lines to play casino games online.

Who can’t play online casino games in Pennsylvania? chevron

Pennsylvania law requires players to be at least 21 years old to gamble online. This legislation also does not permit employees of land-based casinos and top-level personnel of online casinos from playing online casinos. Therefore, so long as you meet all the criteria for online casinos in Pennsylvania, you will be permitted to play.

Do offshore online casinos operate in Pennsylvania?chevron

So far, Pennsylvania does not have any offshore online casinos operating in the state.