Pennsylvania Gets First Sports Betting Casino

Pennsylvania Gets First Sports Betting Casino

Penn National has been one of the most popular casinos in Pennsylvania and the United States as well and they have been active for almost 50 years. Up to this point, they have constructed 40 facilities in 18 jurisdictions over the US. However, they have never received as much media coverage…

…as in the last few weeks when they have made some great moves!

First of all, they purchased Pinnacle Entertainment for almost $3 billion. Secondly, they added 12 additional facilities to their portfolio. Thirdly, they applied for two new Category 4 facilities in the state.

And now, Penn National has the first legal sports betting operation going at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course. The first bets were accepted on November 17 after a two-day trial run whereas the casino’s VP of Marketing Fred Lipkin called it “a soft opening.”

“And barely two weeks in, we’re already getting a feel for the new audience, with a younger demographic that’s coming to that room, which is great to see,” said Dan Ihm, Hollywood Casino’s general manager.

First to Do It

Live sportsbook has become one of the most desired new aspects of casino gaming ever since the ban on sports betting was lifted in May earlier in the year. Penn National was not wasting time and as the other casinos in the state struggled to start, they have already provided that service to the clients…

…which says quite a lot about this institution.

“Our racetrack opened in August of 1972, and since that time and after the passing of casino gaming in Pennsylvania — we’ve rebuilt ourselves from the ground up,” said Lipkin. They literally built a new facility in place of an old one which opened in 2008.

The First Sports Betting Casino

Pennsylvania has been among the first countries in the United States to allow sports wagering and BGT operations. When the legislation passed in the state, it marked a green light for Penn National to get to work and acquire necessary licenses to provide the new services to everyone who wanted to bet on sports.

“The legislation allowed, under certain restrictions and criteria, up to five slot machines and video gaming terminals to be placed at truck stops in Pennsylvania in a partnership between the casino and the gaming company,” stated Lipkin.

Considering that sports betting entered the USA with a bang…

…it was quite odd for Penn National to introduce it in such a quiet way. Ihm said that state mandated a two-day testing before they permitted the license to the operator.

Ihm laughed: “Plus, on the 15th of November we had our first major snowstorm. Everything was closed down, and a great day to test the waters of something as new as legal sports wagering. It allowed us to get all the bugs out before we could begin our advertising.”

Change in Demographics

What seems to be the case since the opening is the surge of a younger population that is interested in sports wagering. A new market has opened for the casino and a lot more 25-35-year-old males are active on the weekends when most of the games takes place.


“Quietly, Pennsylvania gets its first sports-betting casino”, A.D. Amorosi,, December 9, 2018.

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