Why Sports Betting in PA Will Be Different

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, but it seems everyone is overlooking why PA online sports betting will be different than betting in New Jersey.

Most obviously, the infrastructure in PA is much different than it is in New Jersey, where gambling and even online gambling was legal long before the Supreme Court overturned a 1992 ruling effectively making betting legal in New Jersey, is mostly non-existent. Where New Jersey had a process in place for vetting sports betting apps, Pennsylvania has none. A self-stated goal of launching online betting by late 2018 has long passed, and now Wire Act uncertainty has pushed the target even further— anywhere from April to July, depending on comments from regulators and operators alike.

The delay is just one problem.

The second is that only 12, and soon 13, operators will be able to launch apps with one skin. That means the competition will be less in PA than it is in New Jersey, meaning more questionable casino app experiences and less partnerships with mobile-first companies like BetStars and others.

DraftKings, the leader in New Jersey, doesn’t even have a partner in Pennsylvania yet, and FanDuel will have to have its app branded by little known Valley Forge Casino and Resort, which doesn’t have nearly the recognition or name reputation that nearby Parx and SugarHouse has.

Throw in the onerous tax rates and you have the recipe for poor apps to offer poor odds and poor promotions. All of this in a state that is ripe to be a sports betting leader, with two major cities with sports fans.

The revenue numbers will still be off the charts, but consumers won’t have the same easy of use or quality breadth of apps at their disposal. At least not right away.