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Casinos and Gambling in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania might not be one of the first states in the USA that come to mind when you think of gambling, but it is one of the biggest states for gamblers. The state welcome land-based casinos, online gambling, and sports betting. It is actually one of the largest states for gambling in the United States, with only Nevada and New Jersey being bigger states for gambling.

We’ll take you through everything you need to know about gambling and casinos in the state, what you can and can’t do, where to play, and more. The state houses over 5000 gambling machines and over ten land-based casinos.

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Best casinos in Pennsylvania

Gambling Laws in Pennsylvania

Gambling became legal in the state in the late 1950s when Pennsylvania legalized betting on horse racing, and the first track opened. This remained the only legal gambling in the state until the early 2000s. In the early 2000s, a bill was passed that allowed the state’s race tracks to apply for slot machine licences.

As was expected, the slots became hugely popular and earned the state millions of dollars in taxes. Following the success of the slot machines, Pennsylvania went ahead and permitted table games in 2010. Over the course of the next few years, there was a lot of discussion about online gambling and whether to legalize it or not. The discussions would continue until 2017 when online casinos were permitted to operate in the state.

Once the Supreme Court repealed PASPA, Pennsylvania also permitted sports betting. In 2019, additional regulations were passed to expand the gambling industry, permitting slot machines to be permitted in more locations

Online Casinos in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania first legalized online casinos back in 2017. However, it took around two years for the first online casino to open in the state. Many of the casinos within the state were permitted to begin online operations.

There are many reasons to sign up and enjoy at one of the casino sites in Pennsylvania. Not only are they more convenient, and you can play from your own home, but they offer great bonuses, better payouts, bigger game selections, welcome bonuses, and more.

Pennsylvania Land-Based Casinos

Until online gambling was legalized in 2017, gamblers needed to head to one of the state’s land-based casinos. There are currently 12 land-based casinos, with a 13th casino expected to open sometime in 2021 or 2022. Currently, the largest casino in the state is Parx Casino that houses over 3200 casino games.

Pennsylvania's best gambling

Casinos in Pennsylvania are broken up into three different categories. These are Racinos, Resorts, and stand-alone casinos. The 2019 expanded regulations also permitted a new category, mini casinos, which are currently in the process of being constructed.

The state has six horse race track casinos (racinos), two hotel resorts with casino games and five stand-alone casinos. State legislation in Pennsylvania permits all casinos to offer Table Games and up to 5000 gaming machines. The resort licences are allowed up to 600 gaming machines.

Mini casinos will be allowed to host between 300 and 750 slot machines, and 30 other casino games.

Racinos in Pennsylvania

When a casino is combined with a horse race track, it is known as a Racino. These are awarded a Category 1 casino licence and can have up to 5000 gambling machines. The following Racinos are operating in Pennsylvania:

  • Parx Casino
  • Hollywood Casino
  • The Meadows Racetrack
  • Harrah’s Philadelphia
  • Presque Isles Down
  • Mohegan Sun Ponoco

Stand Alone Casinos

The stand-alone casinos in Pennsylvania are granted a Category 2 licence and are permitted to have the same number of games as the Category 1. One of the interesting regulations with regards to Category 2 is that two of the casinos need to be in Philadelphia, with one required to be in Pittsburgh. These are the state’s Stand-Alone casinos:

  • SugarHouse Casino
  • Mount Airy Casino
  • Wind Creek Bethlehem (Formerly Sands Bethlehem)
  • Live! Philadelphia Casino
  • Rivers Casino

Hotel Resort Casinos

Finally, we have the Category 3 licence that is given to Resorts. This is the smallest type of casino in PA, with up to 600 slot machines. There are currently only two Resort casinos:

  • Lady Luck Casino
  • Valley Forge Casino

Sports Betting in Pennsylvania

Once the Supreme Court repealed PASPA and removed the federal ban on sports betting, Pennsylvania was one of the first states to start introducing legislator to legalize sports betting. Pennsylvania allowed any establishment that already holds a gambling licence for slots to apply for a sports betting certificate.

This means that 11 of the 13 gambling establishments are eligible to apply for the certificate.

Top PA Casinos

PA Daily Fantasy Sports

Daily Fantasy Sports are completely legal in Pennsylvania and are supervised by the state’s Gaming Control Board. Regulations regarding Daily Fantasy Sports are a little different, though, when compared to other forms of online gambling. DFA operators are not required to have a local operation, are taxed at 15% on gross revenue, and a five-year licence costs $50 000.

Lotteries in Pennsylvania

The lottery in Pennsylvania is one of the oldest in the USA, with the first lotto ticket being sold in 1972. It is estimated that PA lottery sales have raised $29 billion. In 2022, there are over ten standard lotto games, including Powerball, Mega Millions, Wild Ball, and more.

The state now also allows online lottery sales, giving state residents access to over 25 lottery and casino-style games.

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