The Pennsylvania Gambling Industry

Pennsylvania has emerged as a gambling hub. You can access different forms of gambling from the state, including casino gambling, Bingo, the Pennsylvania lottery, and horse racing. Additionally, nonprofit organizations and taverns offer small games of chance under restricted circumstances.

Gambling in Pennsylvania has only been legal for ten years, but it is second to only Nevada in terms of commercial casino revenues. The House gave a thumbs up to a bill in 2017 that legalized online gambling, and Tom Wolf, the governor, signed it into law. Now, gamblers in the state can visit GO and enjoy a variety of online gaambling games. But before that, let’s find out what is the history of gambling in Pennsylvania. 

Trip Down Memory Lane

The current gambling legislation in the state is focused on utilizing the revenues to create jobs and boost the state’s economy. Moreover, it aims to sew together the state’s financial deficit. The state’s gambling journey can be traced back to 1971, when the PA lottery was established. This was through Act 91 of 1971, which stated that the government-run lottery’s purpose was to provide the elderly property tax relief for property taxes paid in 1971.

The state also hoped to use the lottery to curb illegal gambling operations. The passing of this bill motivated casino operators. However, the state residents rejected the idea severally because of general apprehension about gambling.

However, those behind the push did not give up. In the 1990s, there was another push. However, it was still unfruitful, as the residents were unconvinced that casinos would benefit the state’s economy. It was until 2004 that Pennsylvania legislators passed Act 71, which was a step in the right direction for gambling legalization.

This Act gave birth to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. It also legalized casinos and racetracks in the state. Moreover, a new generation of Pennsylvanians became adults and was more receptive to the idea of legal gambling. Act 71’s success led to increased calls for more gambling legislation.

Different Types of Gambling In Pennsylvania

Casino Gambling

In 2004, the Pennsylvania Gambling Board was established to supervise all casinos in the state. Later, the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act was passed. This Act legalized slot machines at fourteen locations in 2006. The Act sanctioned the legalization of horse tracking locations (7), stand-alone casinos (5), and resort casinos (2). From 2010, the state permitted casinos to operate table games.    

The different categories of casino gambling in the state include:

  • Horse race track casinos
  • Stand-alone casinos
  • Resort casinos
  • Satellite casinos


The Pennsylvania Lottery was established in 1972. Apart from the usual drawings, the state also takes part in Powerball and Mega Millions games. It also sells scratchcard tickets. The Lottery offers draw games such as Pick 2, Pick 3, Pick 4, and Pick 5. Others include Treasure Hunt, Match 6, and Cash 5.

The Pennsylvania Lottery launched Keno as part of their offerings, having drawings every four minutes. Selected lottery retailers display the results on monitors. It also launched Xpress Sports in 2018, which comprised two virtual sports games, racing, and football. All lottery retailers offer Xpress Sports games.

The expansion of the state’s gaming industry paved the way for the creation of iLottery, the Pennsylvania online lottery. However, it received backlash from casino operators in the state.

Bingo and Small Games of Chance

In 1988, the Pennsylvania Local Option Small Games of Chance Act became law. The legislation permits limited gaming in nonprofit organizations and taverns. The game types include punchboards, pull-tab games, weekly drawings, daily drawings, 50/50 drawings, pools, and Race Night Games.

Fantasy Sports

The state has licensed eight providers to provide fantasy sports. The providers include Draft, Draft Kings, FanDuel, Boom Fantasy, Fantasy Draft, Full Time Fantasy Sports, Yahoo Fantasy Sports, and Sportshub Technologies.

Online and retail sportsbooks

Pennsylvania online and retail sportsbooks marked the third anniversary of legal sports betting by recording the highest wagers in October 2021. The sector collected 776 million USD in sports bets. Sports betting in the state is very popular.

This popularity is stimulated by weekends full of sports action. Some of the popular sports include NHL, NBA, and football. Online casinos and poker rooms are more popular, as indicated in their revenues.

What Does The Future Hold?

The gambling sector is on the rise in Pennsylvania. Moreover, studies have shown that sportsbooks and online casinos have a symbiotic relationship. This is because whenever sportsbooks thrive, the fortunes of online casinos also go up.

As the state continues to work on gambling legislation, it will make it easier for more operators to open their operations in the state. Moreover, with the popularity of sports growing, the rise of sports gambling’s popularity is not stopping soon.

Finally, technological advances are helping online casinos to make their offers more attractive hence attracting more users. All these factors show that the future of gambling in Pennsylvania is bright!    



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