Evidence of the omnibus gambling expansion Pennsylvania lawmakers approved in 2017 is showing up all across the Commonwealth.
A new PA online lottery was one of the first signs last year and has since expanded to include keno and virtual sports at bars and restaurants. You’ll find video gaming machines at truck stops, too, and tablet-based gambling is coming to airport terminals soon.
The 2017 law also formalized the regulation of daily fantasy sports, though most of the major operators were already serving the state.
Then came PA sports betting. The first of the brick-and-mortar sportsbooks began popping up in December 2018, and eight of them are open for business today. Five new satellite casinos in various stages of construction, also authorized in 2017, will likely open their sportsbooks when they open their doors.
Last week, the second phase of sports betting began in Pennsylvania with the launch of the first online wagering platforms. SugarHouse Sportsbook rolled out for testing on Tuesday before welcoming the general public to the party three days later.
SugarHouse Sportsbook is easy to navigate, and its lines are competitive among US sports betting operators. Bettors will find as many sports and features as they will anywhere else, along with an iRush Reward program that is tied to the land-based SugarHouse Casino.
Limited live streaming incorporated into the platform represents one of the key differentiators for SugarHouse Sportsbook.
Thanks to a recent deal with IMG Arena, bettors can watch tennis matches directly within the live-betting interface — including the French Open currently underway in Paris. Only FanDuel Sportsbook offers something similar in the US, and it is not yet active in PA.
To celebrate launch in PA, SugarHouse Sportsbook is offering new customers a 100% deposit bonus of up to $250. Use the code PA250 when you register, and SugarHouse will credit your account with free bets to match your first deposit. Keep in mind that the promo funds expire in 30 days.
It’s a mixed bag for bettors near the PA-NJ border who already have an account on the New Jersey platform. You’ll need to create a separate account, which means you’ll be eligible for the welcome bonus on both sides of the river.
Here’s another freebie for everyone to celebrate: SugarHouse is offering no-vig bets on the remainder of the NBA Finals.
The look and feel of SugarHouse Sportsbook are consistent across state lines, but not everything is exactly the same. Small differences in the laws themselves are responsible for some minor variations.
You can’t bet on in-state collegiate athletics in New Jersey, for example, while all colleges are on the board in Pennsylvania. On the other hand, non-sporting events like award ceremonies are not available in Pennsylvania. The PA client also features fewer deposit and withdrawal methods for now, as regulators work to streamline transactions across the universe of payment processing.
A larger issue centers around the platform itself. Unlike New Jersey, there is no iOS client available in Pennsylvania for the time being. A new policy from Apple is forcing operators to retool their software, causing some headaches for developers and gamblers alike. It may be several months before it’s fully resolved.
The good news is that SugarHouse Sportsbook is available via web browsers and on Android devices. Bettors will find the same lines across all SugarHouse platforms in both states.
The parent company, Rush Street Gaming, is making a substantial investment in modernized forms of gambling.
It offers retail and online sports betting in two states, along with a successful NJ online casino product and plans for expansion elsewhere. Its physical footprint in Pennsylvania covers both major population centers: SugarHouse in Philadelphia and Rivers in Pittsburgh.
In addition to being first online, SugarHouse was also the first casino to open a retail sportsbook in PA.
When the time comes, the company also plans to bring its SugarHouse online casino over from New Jersey. Even better, Rush Street is among the smaller group of operators with plans for online poker in Pennsylvania. These two forms of expanded gambling are just about the only things left to go online in PA, tentatively on target for a midsummer launch.
Rush Street develops its platforms via an in-house Interactive division, and it uses Kambi to manage its sports betting risk.