September 16, 2021
Pennsylvania has always been a very progressive state when it comes to legal gambling. The first land-based casinos opened in the early 2000’s. A massive gaming expansion bill was signed into law in 2017.
Sports betting became legal on a state by state basis in May of 2018. PA quickly took the lead to legalize both retail and online sportsbooks. For its efforts, this has become the third-biggest US market for legal sports betting according to monthly betting volume.
The tremendous growth of online sports betting through mobile sportsbook apps has led the way. Yet, the Keystone State does have a strong retail segment for legal sports betting through its casino and racetrack network.
Pittsburgh Senator Wayne Fontana wants to expand the retail sector by bringing legal betting kiosks to bars, taverns and restaurants. He has introduced Senate Bill 843 to do just that.
Under his plan, retail establishments with a valid PA liquor license would be eligible with a twist. These retail locations would need to partner with an in-state casino to obtain the proper licensing.
The casino partner would pay the state $10,000 for the gaming permit in a retail account. That same casino partner would collect 75% of the sports betting revenue. The other 25% would go to the participating bar, tavern or restaurant.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board would be responsible for issuing the sports betting certificates. These certificates would go directly to the casinos. In return, they would pay the $10,000 fee. They would also pay the retail account $100 per month to house the betting kiosks.
As written, the bill would not limit the amount of betting kiosks that could be placed. Winning sports bets would be redeemed at the actual retail account or partner casino. All placement agreements between casinos and retail accounts would require a 60-month term.
Senator Fontana is looking for a way to jump-start the bar, tavern and restaurant industry throughout the state. Times have been tough in this industry. This is especially true when it comes to major metro areas such as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
The main provisions of SB 843 are designed to be a starting point for discussion. The Pennsylvania Senate returns to session at the end of September.
Fontana is a Democrat in a Republican-controlled state legislature. This means he is probably facing an uphill battle to move his bill forward. However, he will have the strong support of some major players in Pennsylvania’s bar, tavern and restaurant industry.
Written by Dave Schwab, our US Sports Betting Industry Expert. You can learn more about our author's expertise here.