·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

News & Politics

How Pennsylvania Spearheaded Changes in US Sports Betting Laws

— September 10, 2021

While New Jersey is still the largest sports betting market in the nation, Pennsylvania has shown some impressive growth rates.

The US is in the midst of ongoing deregulation regarding sports betting laws. Nowhere is this more so than in Pennsylvania. The Keystone State was one of the first US states to legalize sports betting and now states everywhere from Colorado to Illinois are following suit. So what is it about Pennsylvania that made it such a catalyst for the sea change in US sports betting legislation?

The state of play in the Keystone State

As it stands, sports fans in Pennsylvania can now enjoy betting on professional sports, college games, and sports from all over the world. However, players won’t be able to bet on non-sporting events like reality TV shows or the NFL draft. Interestingly, betting on esports is still illegal in the Keystone State, while horse betting providers are regulated separately from regular sports. 

The Pennsylvania sports betting industry is tightly regulated by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to make sure that consumers stay safe when betting online. As such, all sports betting sites in Pennsylvania will only be able to accept customers who can prove that they are over 21 and are wagering from within state lines. 

While there is no requirement for punters to have to be Pennsylvania residents, they won’t be able to bet if they are on a self-exclusion list. Such criteria have been put in place to ensure that people in Pennsylvania can enjoy sports betting with appropriate safeguards relating to things like problem gambling. 

The legalization of sports betting in Pennsylvania

Legal sports betting in Pennsylvania swiftly became a reality after the US Supreme Court overturned a federal ban on sports betting. This gave individual states such as Pennsylvania the legal power to set their own legislation regarding betting on sports. It was a groundswell moment with neighboring states like New Jersey also legalizing sports betting. Prior to this, sports fans would have had to travel to Nevada to bet on sport.

Image by Tim Gouw, via
Image by Tim Gouw, via

There are many complicated motives behind the overturning of betting laws in Pennsylvania. Arguably money is a deciding factor as online sportsbooks in the Keystone State have to put up $10 million for a valid sports betting license. When coupled up with a revenue tax of 36%, it’s easy to see how important gambling has come to fill the state coffers. 

The fact that Pennsylvania was one of the first US states to adopt legal sports betting meant that it has proven to be something of a testing ground for many new sportsbooks. Since the overturning of betting laws in 2017, retail betting in 2018, and online betting in 2019 followed suit and it’s been interesting to see how Pennsylvania has set a path that other US states are only just starting to follow.

While New Jersey is still the largest sports betting market in the nation, Pennsylvania has shown some impressive growth rates. So whether it’s betting on the Eagles in the NFL or the Pirates in the MLB, it seems that sports betting in Pennsylvania are on the up. 

Join the conversation!