PA Could Be Among The First To Take On Legal Sports Betting

May 14, 2018

Pennsylvania regulators aren't predicting when sports betting will begin legally in the state now that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a law that bars gambling on football, basketball, baseball and other sports in most states.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board said Monday its staff must first write regulations that the agency's seven-member board must approve.

Pennsylvania lawmakers prospectively legalized sports betting last October in a sweeping casino expansion law.

Owners of the state's 12 licensed casinos can pay $10 million to operate sports betting in the casino, at another facility or online. The state tax rate is 34 percent.

Gov. Tom Wolf's spokesman said revenue from sports betting will be good for the state's budget. At $1.4 billion, Pennsylvania is the No. 1 state in tax revenue from casino gambling.

Nevada is the only state that currently allows wagers on individual games, but 24 states have at least considered getting into business with sports book operators. Here's where Pennsylvania's neighbors stand:

Delaware

Parlay bets on NFL games are already available in Delaware because it was one of the four states with pre-existing laws authorizing sports betting that were not affected by the federal ban. Delaware tried to legalize bets on individual games in 2009, but that ran afoul of the federal law. With the ban lifted, Delaware has the infrastructure in place through its lottery and casinos to quickly begin expanding its wagering options. State finance secretary Rick Geisenberger told The Associated Press on Monday that full-scale sports gambling could be available at Delaware's three casinos by the end of June.

New Jersey

The Garden State spent years fighting the sports betting ban in court, culminating in its victory on Monday. The legislature has twice passed laws legalizing sports betting, and operators of the Monmouth Park horse racing track said Monday they'd start taking bets within two weeks "unless someone stops us." The track has the capability of taking bets almost immediately, but lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy would prefer to pass a bill to regulate sports betting before any sports books open. Deputy Assembly Speaker John Burzichelli said it will probably be several weeks before a revised bill is enacted.

New York

Voters in 2013 approved a constitutional amendment authorizing commercial casinos, and that amendment authorized the casinos to open sports books if the ban were lifted. However, further legislation is needed before any bets can be taken, and the legislature is considering several bills that would shape the sports gambling industry in the state. Major League Baseball, the NBA and casino interests have done intense lobbying in Albany in recent months.

West Virginia

Lawmakers this year approved sports betting at the state's five casinos and on approved mobile apps in the event of a Supreme Court decision repealing the ban. Republican Gov. Jim Justice allowed the bill to become law without his signature and later announced that he'd reached a deal for casinos to pay a fee to professional sports leagues to help them protect the integrity of their games. Casino operators, however, said the meeting with Justice ended without a deal and that casinos continue to oppose the fee. The leagues had lobbied unsuccessfully for such language to be part of the law.