PA online casinos are flourishing in 2021. Pennsylvania recently overtook New Jersey in terms of casino revenue – taking second place behind Nevada.
This guide covers everything you need to about online casinos in PA, gambling online and PA poker sites.
2021 is shaping up to be a busy year in the Keystone state, with close to a dozen gambling sites available. There are multiple sites to choose from in Pennsylvania, including, poker, casino and sports betting.
This guide walks you through the best PA casino apps, including bonus offers available and how to choose a site that works for you.
2021 will be a busy year for Pennsylvania. With both real money PA casinos and poker sites already online, you can expect new games, new promotions and new operators to expand in the Keystone State.
The initial licenses are awarded to holders of existing gaming licenses (brick and mortar casinos). A second batch awarded to ‘qualifying gaming organizations’ bringing increased choice for players further down the line.
Many big brand names including Scientific Games and PokerStars have already found partners – and have launched. While some live casinos declined to move online (for example Sands Bethlehem), other big names including Harrah’s Casino and Mohegan Sun are all posed to make this move.
Sports betting is live in PA live casinos, following New Jersey’s victory at the Supreme Court. Licenses have since been issued for a number of sites and many launched in 2019 with more that followed in 2020.
Slots are taxed differently to table games and poker in PA. With a 54% tax on gross gaming revenues, these games will not be as profitable for the casinos as in other states. This high tax rate also applies to slots at existing B&M casinos – and help make PA the state with the highest tax take from casinos, even beating out Nevada.
Most of the license holders have formed technology partnerships already. Big international brands and equivalents gave some clues as to what players could expect with Pennsylvania online gambling sites. The first casino to go online was Sugarhouse, followed by Parx, BetRivers and Hollywood Casino.
Here is a list of online casinos in PA and known partnerships to date:
With the online casinos in PA open, players have a unique opportunity. The brands (and their partner land-based casinos) are keen to get a great start. This means bonuses and promotions for new players should be both generous and easy to come by.
You’ll find the best PA online casino bonus codes here along with some pointers of the types of bonus and promo deals to expect – and how to take advantage of each one.
One significant type of casino bonus you can expect from PA gambling sites is one-off and special promos. These can be tied to holidays, sporting events like the Super Bowl or sometimes just new slot games. A solid number of one-off promos shows that a casino is serious about looking after their regular players, and not just attracting new ones.
At the time of writing, over half a dozen live casinos have applied for online sports betting licenses. Mid 2019 saw Sugar House become the first PA sports betting site, albeit with a soft-launch. Since then, Fanduel, FoxBet Bet Rivers and Unibet PA have launched.
The other casinos that launched PA sports betting sites in 2020 include:
Poker relies on a larger number of players to offer bigger prize tournaments and a wider choice of games / formats. It was assumed that a link-up would happen, though the recent reassessment of the opinion on the Wire Act has now bought this into question.
PA has a big enough population (12.8 million) to make online poker viable alone – though the benefits to players of the extended player pool would be considerable.
PokerStars was the first online poker site in Pennsylvania to go live and is partnered with Mount Airy Casino.
Here are the rest of the sites and partnerships announced so far:
With so many options available, choosing the best PA online gambling site might not be easy. This section draws on years of casino, poker and sportsbook experience to bring you the key things to look out for before you sign-up.
For casino fans, the software, games, bonuses and live-dealer options all come into play. Casino site software has come on a long way since the big brands left the US back in 2006. This is now responsive to your screen size, with animations and 3D effects which will blow you away.
In the past, casinos required you download a software package onto your PC. These days, your choices are mostly browser-based – with some smartphone apps.
Instead of games from a single software provider, casinos curate their own choice of slots, table games and novelty titles. You’ll find games from giants like SG and IGT alongside titles from new and innovative software houses. I recommend you try out casinos (with free no-deposit money where possible) to find the game selection and software that you like best.
Poker fans will also have some choices to make. While a lot depends on whether player pools are shared or PA-only – there are differences between the games and formats each site offers. With poker, size matters. While you might prefer software on one site, if all the opponents (particularly the recreational ones) are playing elsewhere, then it makes sense to switch. As well as welcome bonuses, ongoing offers make a big difference to your bottom line in poker games. The best PA poker site will combine a lot of players, a great selection of games and regular reward.
Finally, sports bettors will know that the lines on offer at PA sports betting sites are more important than the software client. That is not to say bad sportsbook software should be tolerated! This area is one where having a choice of site (and the ability to shop for the best lines each time you bet) is more important than a long list of features or gimmicks.
The choice of slots online these days will come as a pleasant surprise to many new players. You can enjoy online versions of slots from live casinos (including many movie and TV show themed games). You will find the depth of game-play in online-only slot titles has significantly improved. Increased competition from smaller software houses, combined with classics from the likes of Bally, IGT and others will give you a huge choice.
If you prefer your slot play more traditional, then you’ll be happy to know 3-reel slots – which mimic the original mechanical machines – are also widely available. Many PA online slots have huge (million+) jackpots these days too.
Table games can be played via casino software, or with live dealer via a real-time video link. Live dealer games are hugely popular – adding a social element to online casino gambling. You’ll find plenty of options including blackjack, roulette, baccarat and casino poker variants. Software based table games give you even more choices including many innovative side-bets and rules variations.
Like many East coast states, Horse Racing, and the gambling associated with them, were popular as far back as the 1830’s. A lottery and limited charity gambling options were all that was available for a long stretch – until 2004.
In that year ‘Act 71’ was passed, legalizing live casinos and betting at horse racing tracks. These forms of gambling would become a big source of income for the state coffers. High tax rates (particularly on slot and casino gaming), meant that more tax revenue came from gambling in PA than in any other state in 2018. This includes Nevada, where the revenues are higher – though tax rate is significantly lower.
On Oct. 25, 2017, the Pennsylvania Senate passed a comprehensive gaming expansion package that includes online gambling in the form of online poker, online slots, as well as online table games. The next day, the PA House passed the bill as well, making Pennsylvania the fourth state in the nation to authorize online gambling.
The package then went to Gov. Tom Wolf, who signed the bill on Oct. 30, 2017, officially cementing PA’s status as the fourth US state to legalize online gaming.
The legislation, H 271, permits a variety of other gambling expansions, including daily fantasy sports, sports betting both online and off (should the federal government repeal PASPA), video gaming terminals (VGTs) in authorized truck stops, and tablet gaming at qualified airport locations.
Now that Wolf signed the bill into law, it will likely be around nine months before the first legal online gambling sites launch in Pennsylvania. Regulations will need to be promulgated, licenses issued, sites tested, and so forth.
When legal NJ online gambling was passed, it was roughly nine months before sites went live.
Pennsylvania has surpassed their first year of online gambling and in that year they saw half a dozen sportsbooks go online, one poker site and four casinos. More rolled out over the course of 2020.
Yes. A bill was signed by Governor Tom Wolf on October the 30th, 2017. This kick-started a licensing process, initially awarding online gambling licenses to live casinos in Pennsylvania. 12 licenses covering the 3 main gambling verticals (casino, sports betting and poker) have been awarded. Anyone over 21 physically inside the state borders can legally gamble online at licensed sites. There is no requirement to be a permanent resident of Pennsylvania.
Licensees are currently required to hold a licensed for a brick and mortar casino. There are additional requirements involving taxation, the purchase of 5-year licenses, player protection and game fairness testing. These are overseen by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
Online casino games and real money poker is available, with PokerStars launching the first PA poker site and Sugarhouse offering the first online casino. There are only a handful of sites available, but each provides a variety of games.
You need to be 21 to legally gamble in PA, this applies to both online and brick and mortar establishments.
Most real money casinos also offer free-play versions of their games for new players to try out. In addition to these completely free slots and games, many casinos offer free bonus cash to new players. This allows you to play casino games with no personal financial risk. You can keep your winnings, subject to play-through requirements and other terms.
Online gambling bonuses are common – and will be available to new players at all online gambling sites. These take various forms. Typical incentives include free play (no-deposit) bonuses, matched bonuses based on your first deposit, matched bonuses for existing players (reloads), comp point schemes and one-off promotions.
You’ll be able to take bonuses from each casino, as long as nobody else in your household has already claimed the same bonus.
All gambling winnings need to be declared on your tax return and are treated as any other form of income. This is separate from the tax that the casinos pay on their ‘Gross Gaming Revenue’.
There are two main reasons to stick to regulated PA online gambling. These are safety and quality.
Safety: Offshore casinos are lightly regulated, giving you little or no recourse should you have issues or a dispute. In addition to the risk of encountering a rogue operator, you’ll find it difficult to get money off quickly in the event of legal action from the US. If you stick to PA casinos, you have protection and can ensure that games are completely fair.
Quality: The offshore casinos rely on software supplied by companies willing to turn a blind eye to where it is used. While some games are good, these generally don’t match the quality of the big international game / software developers like IGT and MicroGaming. You’ll have a choice of better-quality gaming options at online casinos PA.
Playing at the legal PA online gambling sites makes payments much simpler than with the grey-market offshore casinos. You’ll be able to use your credit cards in the same way as making any online purchase. Common brands like Amex, Visa and MasterCard are all welcomed by online casinos. In addition, electronic wallets like PayPal and Skrill are available.