PlaySugarHouse’s iRush Rewards Program And Introductory Bonus Offer Attracts A Rush Of Players

PlaySugarHouse PA just launched (on May 31) as Pennsylvania’s first online sportsbook and mobile sports betting app. That’s the first foray for the company into the PA online gaming space, but next month (July 15) PlaySugarHouse will expand and offer online casino games like slots, video poker, blackjack and other games.

In an effort to attract customers, PlaySugarHouse is offering a very generous sign-up and deposit bonus. Additionally, players are getting access to the same online player rewards program that has been so successful in neighboring New Jersey, the iRush Rewards Program.

A great matching sign-up bonus using code “PA250”

Right now at playsugarhouse.com, the site will match 100% of your initial deposit on any amount of at least $10 up to a maximum of $250. Best of all, to earn the bonus, players need only play through the deposit amount once (1x).

For example, if you opt to take maximum advantage of the bonus you would sign-up and deposit $250 into your account – making sure to use bonus code “PA250”. Then make wagers totaling at least $250. No matter whether you win or lose, after meeting that required “play through”, the site will credit your account with the deposit bonus of $250.

It’s a great deal, and Pennsylvanian’s interested in betting sports online (and online gaming in general starting next month) should seriously consider taking advantage of it.

Earn iRush rewards online – get rewarded live.

The PlaySugarHouse online casino’s rewards program is called iRush Rewards and is based on SugarHouse Casino’s brick & mortar Rush Rewards program. With the iRush Rewards system, players earn rewards online but can access some perks and benefits live and in person at SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia.

The iRush Reward system rewards players in two ways with each bet they make, Loyalty Level points, and Bonus Store points.

Loyalty Level points increase a player’s tier status. As players increase their loyalty level, they earn higher levels of benefits and rewards. Bonus Store points work differently. These can be used in the PlaySugarHouse Bonus Store to purchase various bonus money rewards.

Earning loyalty level points and bonus store points

It can be tricky to figure out how many Loyalty Level points and Bonus Store points you are earning at playsugarhouse.com for each dollar you are betting on the site. In some ways, it’s very simple. In other ways it’s complicated.

It’s simple because Loyalty Level points and Bonus Store points are accumulated at exactly the same rate as you play. It’s complicated because PlaySugarHouse wants to reward players fairly and generously, and they’ve scaled the way points are earned to reward their players in a way that’s commensurate with their style of play.

Earning points on casino games

On their online casino games (slots, video poker, blackjack, roulette, etc). PlaySugarHouse adjusts the amount of dollars wagered to earn one point (bonus or loyalty) based on the return-to-player (RTP) associated with the specific game. The higher the RTP, the more slowly points are earned and vice versa. Every game on the site has a slightly different RTP so graduating the reward system in this way makes iRush Rewards better reflect the playing styles of each player and reward them appropriately.

Here’s a breakdown of how it works looking at how much a player must wager to earn one point based on the RTP of the game they are playing:

Casino Game's RTPAmount wagered to earn 1 point
94.00%$4.17
95.00%$5.00
97.50%$10.00
99.00%$25.00

Earning points on sports bets

Earning points betting sports at PlaySugarHouse starts out straight-forwardly enough. Players earn one point for every straight $10 sports bet.

Players interested in making parlay bets begin getting awarded points at a better rate the more teams they add to their parlay ticket. Keep adding bets to the parlay and players eventually achieve a one-to-one point per dollar wagered ratio for parlays of 10 to 12 bets.

Here’s a chart showing how adding bets to parlay tickets increases how quickly you can earn reward points:

# of bets included in the parlayAmount wagered to earn one Loyalty Point
1 (a straight bet)$10
2$9
3$8
4$7
5$6
6$5
7$4
8$3
9$2
10-12$1

iRush Rewards’ 11-tier system

PlaySugarHouse tailors the rewards they offer to their players with a system that has eleven levels. As players earn more points, they advance up the levels, earning increased benefits, rewards, and perks as they go.

Point requirements for each tier are:

  • first level: 40 points
  • Second level: 160 points
  • Third level: 400 points
  • Fourth level: 760 points
  • Fifth level: 1,400 points
  • Sixth level: 2,800 points
  • Seventh level: 5,200 points
  • Eighth level: 8,800 points
  • Ninth level: 13,600 points
  • Tenth level: 20,000 points
  • Elite level: By invitation only

The player’s current status level is determined by the number of points earned during a 60-day rolling period.

Players can easily see their Loyalty Level and track their progress at playsugarhouse.com. Players can click on the “My Rewards” tab or simply look at the meter at the top of the “My Account” page. All level changes are updated at least once per day.

What are the benefits available at the various levels?

PlaySugarHouse players at all levels earn Bonus Store points as they earn Loyalty Level points. More about the Bonus Store and the Bonus Bank below.

Player’s who reach the seventh, eighth, and ninth levels enjoy extra benefits which include:

  • A dedicated VIP manager
  • Offers from an exclusive VIP promotional calendar
  • VIP birthday gifts
  • Access to the VIP lounge at SugarHouse Casino
  • Exclusive PlaySugarHouse swag
  • Exclusive free play and dining offers at SugarHouse Casino
  • Invitations to VIP events (levels 8 – Elite)
  • Expedited withdrawals (levels 8-Elite)
  • Luxury VIP gifts (levels 9-Elite)

After reaching Level 10, PlaySugarHouse members also receive:

  • Lifetime custom VIP avatar
  • VIP “thank you” dinner
  • Luxury accomodations in Philadelphia

At the pinnacle, Elite Level PlaySugarHouse members enjoys these benefits:

  • Elite VIP promotions
  • A dedicated VIP concierge
  • A free Apple or Android playing device
  • VIP transportation to SugarHouse Casino
  • and ultra-luxury VIP Gifts

The iRush Rewards Bonus Store

As players accumulate Bonus Store points along with their Loyalty Level points, these Bonus Store points accumulate in the – you guessed it – Bonus Store. To access them, players just click on their avatar on the top of the page and select “Bonus Store” from the pull-down menu.

Once there, players can view how many points they have and can choose how to redeem them. Some of the available options are purchasing scratch cards, wheel spins, bingo cards, and guaranteed bonus money. Even at the Bonus Store, players can choose how much and whether to gamble! Some options are “locked” because they require a higher Loyalty Level before they can be accessed by players.

It’s important to not just let these Bonus Store points sit around. Unused points expire one year from the date they were earned.

All bonus money won, earned, awarded, or purchased at the Bonus Store accumulates in the players Bonus Bank, allowing players to save it for later use.

The iRush Rewards Bonus Bank

The PlaySugarHouse iRush Bonus Bank is where players can keep earned free play bonuses until they are ready to play. Any active bonuses that are available will show under “My Active Bonus” The total amount in “My Bonus Bank” can be activated to play at any time. Simply enter the amount you want to use and select “Activate“.

Then you will be playing with free-play dollars that convert to real money as you play through once (dollar for dollar).

The site lets you know exactly how much bonus money the player has as well as how much playthrough is required until the real money winnings can be cashed out. All this can be easily tracked with the “Bonus Money Meter“.

 

Rivers Casino Philadelphia

SugarHouse Casino Announces Name Change To Rivers Casino Philadelphia

Pennsylvania gamblers are undoubtedly familiar with the Rivers Casino, a casino that has been operating in Pittsburgh since 2009. Now sister casino, SugarHouse Casino, which is also operated by Rush Street Interactive will be changing its name to Rivers Casino Philadelphia over the coming months.

The move comes less a month after the SugarHouse Casino became the first casino to go live with a mobile sportsbook and nearly a month before the SugarHouse was set to launch online gambling. The timing of the announcement is no coincidence as the company revealed its desire to unify the brands as gambling in the state makes major advances.

“This is something we’ve been thinking about for quite a while. I think we are at the point in our company’s history where it makes sense to have a unified brand. All our properties and markets, especially with the advent of online gaming, we think it makes a lot of sense,” said Greg Carlin, Rush Street Gaming CEO.

Changes will take time

Changing the name of the SugarHouse Casino to Rivers Casino Philadelphia will not be done overnight. The company must change a variety of signage, marketing materpermanentno chips and much more as part of the rebranding. Also on tap is a planned $15 million in upgrades that were coming to the SugarHouse Casino anyway.

Those improvements included a permnament home for the SugarHouse sportsbook, which opened last December. Then the casino will build a new signature restaurant while focusing on the soon-to-launch online gambling product. In July, the SugarHouse Casino be one of the casinos involved in the statewide “coordinated launch” of online gambling set for July 15th.

What’s next?

Given the success of the SugarHouse online casino in neighboring New Jersey, the SugarHouse is expected to make a big impact when it launches in Pennsylvania. Up in the air is the name of the new online casino, which was operating as PlaySugarHouse since launching in New Jersey and the online sportsbook last month.

The Rivers Casino, which will also be launching online gambling this summer, is expected to use the BetRivers brand name. Now that the SugarHouse Casino is rebranding as Rivers Casino Philadephia, BetRivers seems like a favorite for the new PlaySugarHouse online casino.

PA iLottery Games Launch

Pennsylvania iLottery Frequently Asked Questions

The PA iLottery went live with nearly a dozen new games during the month of May, making it the latest form of new gambling in the state that has been launched since the passage of landmark gambling expansion last October.

The Pennsylvania Lottery has been available since 1972 but games have only been live as of May 2018.

“Adding iLottery games, Keno and virtual sports monitor games will help us to remain competitive in a rapidly changing business climate, but lottery games sold at retail will remain the foundation of our business and generate the majority of funds to benefit older Pennsylvanians,” Executive Director Drew Svitko said.

PA iLottery Bonus Code: WINNER

Sign up with the bonus code WINNER for $5 in free play to get started. Code last confirmed valid on June 1, 2019.

PA Lottery Bonus Code

A Summary of the Pennsylvania Online Lottery

The launch of the PA iLottery brings the Pennsylvania Lottery into the 21st Century with games that can be played quickly, easily and safely. Indepedent from online casino games, the PA iLottery provides citizens with a way to play lottery-based games from a computer.

Players will be able to play for free through a demo version or a $5 Free Bonus and be able to try the games without risking any of their own funds.

Deposits are convenient and safe, customer service options are plentiful, the games are engaging and most importantly – fun. The Pennsylvania Online Lottery can be played anywhere in the state with any supported device.

What is the Pennsylvania iLottery?

A branch of the Pennsylvania Lottery, the PA iLottery is a form of new lottery games that can be played via the internet.

Who can participate in the Pennsylvania iLottery?

To participate in the Pennsylvania iLottery, players must be 18 years of age and older and be located in the state of Pennsylvania at the time of play.

Residents of Pennsylvania will need to create an iLottery account and submit information to have their age and identity verified.

How can a player access iLottery games?

Players must go to PAilottery.com to register for an account to play.

After an account has been approved, you can play iLottery games from any internet enabled device including a computer/laptop, tablet and phone (iOS, Android). An app with access to iLottery games is also available through Android (via the palottery.com website) and through iOS.

What about an PA iLottery Bonus?

To try out the new games, all new customers are able to receive a $5 free bonus after signing up. Players must play the bonus 1x in order to cashout.

Bonus progress can be monitored from the “My Bonuses” section within your “My Account” section.

Receive Your PA Lottery Online Bonus By Clicking Here.

How does the PA Lottery Online VIP Club work?

When you sign-up to the PA Lottery Online, you will automatically be enrolled into the PA Lottery VIP Club. The program packs a variety of perks and features but most of them are limited to perks that come from playing the traditional PA Lottery.

We would anticipate that this would change in the coming months, but players can receive Second Chance drawings and giveaways or Coupon Codes, which are effectively discounts on the purchase of lottery tickets. Occasionally, the Pennsylvania Lottery will offer special limited-time promotions.

What games are available in the PA iLottery?

Check out the PA Lottery Online Games here.

Players can play a variety of games on the PAiLottery website with apparently more games in the pipeline.

As of late May 2018, the iLottery has eleven games that are available to play online. The games include Foxin Wins Reveal, Super Cash Busters, Big Money Slingo, Big Foot Reveal, Crossword Cash, Cash in the Lamp, Super Gems, Robin Hood Reveal, Volcano Reveal, Cash Buster Towers, and Monster Wins Reveal.

Although currently outside the iLottery platform, Keno was among the games that went live this month.

Players are able to try out demos of each of the games to get an understanding of how they work before playing. Below is a screenshot of Foxin Wins Reveal game, an online scratch-off game that is similar to other Reveal games that you can find in the PA Lottery Online.

iLottery PA Games

More traditional games such as scratch-offs, draw games and “Fast Play” games will not be available online — at least right away. But consumers can still continue to purchase these games at lottery retailers.

PA Online Lottery Featured Game of the Month

Need help deciding from the selection of PA online lottery games? Each month, this website will give you a choice for a game in the iLottery that you should give an extra look. Perhaps it’s a new title, a popular favorite with players, a game centered around a new promotion or even a game we happen to like.

Check it out here:

What are Virtual Sports and Xpress Football and Xpress Car Racing?

The PA Lottery recently added two new Virtual Sports games to their brick and mortar retail lottery offerings. The two new games are Xpress Football and Xpress Car Racing and allow players to wager on the outcome of random drawings simulated as computer-generated football drives and car races. PA Xpress Virtual Sports are not currently available through the PA online lottery.

How to deposit and withdraw on the PA Lottery Online?

Pennsylvanians are able to deposit and withdraw online for the PA iLottery using a variety of methods including ACH echeck, Visa Debit, Mastercard Debit and PayNearMe Cash. A minimum deposit of $10 is required in order to deposit a real money balance.

Withdrawals, which can be made via eCheck, will require a minimum of $10 as well. Players will be required to submit documentation to complete their withdrawal and withdrawal requests may take up to 72 hours to be processed.

Where to go with your questions?

The PA Lottery Online provides players with a variety of ways to contact them if any questions or issues. First, go through the Help Center, but if your question is not answered there or an account specific issue, you will want to contact live support instead.

PA Online Lottery customer service can be reached through email, live chat or phone. When emailing, you can submit a request through the PA iLottery website or contacting support@PAilottery.com.

More immediate responses can be had through either phone by calling 1-833-530-PLAY (7529) or through the website’s live chat feature, available in the lower right-hand corner of the website page.

Where do the proceeds of iLottery games go?

Proceeds from the sale of iLottery products go to help older Pennsylvanians. The funds are directed into five main areas including: property tax and rent rebates, transportation, care services, prescription assistance and other local services.

What to do if you have a problem gambling?

If you feel you may have a problem with the iLottery, help is available. Players can call 1-800-GAMBLER for help on compulsive gambling.

If you’re ready to try the PA iLottery out, get started today.

Finally! Mobile Sports Betting Begins In PA

Last November, the first legal sports bets were made in the state of Pennsylvania when Hollywood Casino at Penn National launched the first retail sportsbook authorized by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).

Now, another milestone has been reached. Yesterday (May 28, 2019) a soft-launch for SugarHouse Casino’s mobile sports betting platform went live. For right now, it’s still baby steps.  The Android version of the app has gone live, while the iOS app still awaits PGCB approval. Still, the mobile sports betting avalanche has finally begun. Very soon. PA sportsbettors will have many mobile sports betting options to go along with the many retail sportsbook options they have.

Mobile betting very important to the sportsbook marketplace

Sports bettors (and casinos) have been eagerly awaiting this development. The first retail sportsbook arrived around six months ago and right now, six casinos are operating at eight physical sportsbook locations (Parx Casino has three of them up and running). Four others are in various stages of application and approval for sports betting licenses.

These licenses allow casinos to run physical and mobile versions of their sportsbooks, but until now only the brick and mortar books have been allowed to operate. The PGCB was waiting to make sure there were no hiccups in the casino sportsbooks before allowing the practice to go online.

It’s been a frustrating wait. Having the physical sportsbook is good, but mobile betting is where the bulk of the action comes from. Sports bettors just love the convenience and flexibility that mobile sports betting allows.

As an example, in neighboring New Jersey (where legal sports betting has been around a bit longer) mobile betting accounts for over 80% of the total handle generated by their licensed and regulated casino sportsbooks.

First a trickle, then a tidal wave

Mobile sports betting in PA will start small, but it will eventually come to all the licensed casino sportsbooks in the state. The first wave of operators will consist of the following three operators:

App/WebsiteLicensed CasinoSportsbook PartnerMobile Launch Date
SugarHouse SportsbookSugarHouse CasinoKambiMay 28, 2019 (soft launch)
Rivers SportsbookRivers CasinoKambiTBD
Parx SportsbookParx CasinoKambiTBD

The rest will follow soon after. Once the PGCB is satisfied that the first sportsbook platforms are operating smoothly and in compliance, they will allow the others to follow suit.

Where can I go in PA to place a bet on a game?

This new legalized sportsbook marketplace in Pennsylvania came into existence due to sweeping new gaming legislation passed in 2017. Licenses were created (costing $10 million) that allowed for both retail and mobile sportsbooks. These were offered to PA’s 12 existing casinos and racinos (plus a 13th – Stadium Casino: soon to be built in South Philly’s stadium district).

Other changes were included as well. A new PA online lottery was created. Also, existing casinos got an opportunity to bid for licenses allowing them to build mini-casinos. These mini-casinos, along with existing off track betting (OTB) sites also serve as places where sports betting licensees can open retail sportsbooks under the new sportsbook licenses.

All this means that there are now a host of places in PA one can go to place a bet – and more coming soon:

Sportsbook LocationLicensed CasinoSportsbook PartnerOpening Date
Hollywood CasinoHollywoodWilliam HillNovember 16, 2018
SugarHouse CasinoSugarHouseKambiDecember 13, 2018
Rivers CasinoRiversKambiDecember 13, 2018
Parx CasinoParxKambiJanuary 10, 2019
South Philadelphia Turf ClubParxKambiJanuary 16, 2019
Harrah's PhiladelphiaHarrah'sScientific GamesJanuary 24, 2019
Valley Forge CasinoValley ForgeFanDuelMarch 12, 2019
Valley Forge Race & SportsbookParxKambiMarch 13, 2019
Mohegan Sun PoconoMohegan SunKambiTBD (sometime in 2019)
Mount Airy CasinoMount AiryBetStarsTBD (sometime in 2019)
Presque Isle DownsPresque IsleBetAmericaTBD (sometime in 2019)
Stadium CasinoStadiumTBDTBD (sometime in 2020)

Who can bet on sports in PA?

Pennsylvania’s legal sports bettors must be at least 21 years old and physically located within the state. This geo-location requirement is met automatically in the case of physical sportsbooks. For mobile apps, technology partners will ensure bets are only placed from within the borders of Pennsylvania.

It is not required that you be a resident of PA to make legal bets, just that you are physically located in the state when you place those bets.

Who may NOT bet on sports in PA?

  • people that are too young (under 21 years old)
  • Athletes, coaches, officials, and other related personnel when the game in question is within their league or association.
  • “Excluded Gamblers” – a self-identified category in which people place themselves on a list of those whom casinos may not accept bets from.

What sports are legal to bet on in PA?

Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks accept bets on a wide variety of sports and games – both professional and collegiate. There are no restrictions on collegiate sports, unlike neighboring NJ, where sportsbooks cannot accept bets on games where in-state universities are participating.

The only restrictions are on high-school (and younger) sports, e-sports wagering, and some small novelty sports betting markets.

Also, thanks to the 2017 legislation, Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) are legal now in Pennsylvania.

What about FanDuel and Draftkings?

These two sportsbook operators are always subjects of interest and speculation as sports betting becomes legalized across the country.

FanDuel’s situation in Pennsylvania is well fleshed out. They are partnered with Valley Forge Casino and their sportsbook opened up this March. FanDuel’s mobile app isn’t up and running yet but will be very soon.

DraftKing’s situation is much more of a question mark in PA. They are the industry leader in New Jersey, but thus far haven’t managed to create a path to sportsbook operation in PA, despite inking a market-access deal with Caesar’s Entertainment (Harrah’s). Industry experts expect they will eventually find a casino to partner with in the Keystone State but who it will be is unknown at this time.

How about those taxes and fees?

As mentioned above, the license that allows one of PA’s land-based casinos to offer sports betting (both retail and mobile) costs $10 million. In addition, the state taxes gross revenues at a rate of 34% and authorizes local jurisdictions to tax another 2%. There is also a federal excise tax of 0.25% on the total handle (amount wagered). The grand total tax bill exceeds 36%.

These taxes and fees are very steep, compared to other US states that have begun to legalize sports betting. It remains to be seen how Pennsylvania’s casinos will fare under such an onerous tax and fee burden. Obviously, those who perceive themselves as marginal producers will simply not partake of this opportunity (of the thirteen eligible casinos, only ten are expected to pursue sports betting).

Other possible negative effects of such high state-imposed costs could be the re-emergence of black market bookies in PA or the diversion of Pennsylvania sports bettors to neighboring states (and their mobile sportsbooks). These unwanted results could occur if Pennsylvania’s legal sportsbooks have to offer unattractive odds to overcome the high tax and fee structure.

That would be unfortunate. Of course, the PGCB and the state legislature could always relax these costs if these unintended and unwanted consequences come to pass.

PGCB Renews Parx Casino’s Horse Racing License

On May 15, 2019, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PCGB) unanimously voted to renew Parx Casino’s horse racing license. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is tasked to oversee all aspects of the state’s casino industry, including horse race wagering offered currently at six PA locations.

The process of licensure and renewal

In order to continue operations, casinos have to renew their licenses periodically. The last time that Parx renewed its horse racing license was in November of 2014. As a part of the renewal process, the PCGB held that the owner of the Parx, Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, Inc., fulfilled their duties from the requirements of the previous license.

As part of the process of granting Parx Casino’s renewal, the PGCB held a public hearing on February 28, 2019. Community input was sought as the board wished to hear about the impact of the establishment to the community. Additionally, spokespeople from the Parx provided information about how its horse racing is run. A recording of the hearing can be found here under the Board Meetings section. The Gaming Control Board’s Office of Enforcement Counsel, Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement, Office of Compulsive and Problem Gaming, and the Bureau of Casino Compliance also spoke at the hearing, completing the input process.

Parx Casino in brief

Parx Casino is located in the north-east of Philadelphia. It is the largest casino gaming complex in Pennsylvania. It is located in Bensalem Township in Bucks County. It boasts a 260,000 square foot casino and the Parx East,home to Parx Racing with an additional 280,000 square feet. The live racing season runs from February through December with races Saturday through Tuesday.

Parx Casino features 24 hour gaming with a whopping 3330 slot machines, 180 live table games, an enormous poker room with 48 tables, sports betting, and of course live racing and simulcast action.

Horse Racing history at Parx Racing

Over the years, many famous horses have raced at Parx Racing. Notable horses such as Shuvee, My Juliet, Spectacular Bid, Revidere, Summer Squall and Broad Brush have won at this track. The track became famous for being the home to Smarty Jones, the horse that won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and came in second in the Belmont Stakes, just missing the Triple Crown.

The six casinos in Pennsylvania that have horse wagering are:

Horse Wagering Online and Through Apps

Pennsylvania permits residents to wager on the ponies online once you’ve gone through a verification process. These sites (and apps) include, but are not limited to:

  • TVG – The number one horse betting site.
  • NYRA Bets – The online site of the New York Racing Association
  • Bet America –Kentucky-based online site
  • TwinSpires – The official home of betting on the Kentucky Derby from Churchill Downs
  • DRFBets – The Daily Racing Form’s site

Mohegan Sun Pocono Gains Approval For Sportsbook

The Mohegan Sun Pocono Casino has been approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) to operate a sports betting lounge in their casino located in north eastern Pennsylvania, in Plains Township, on the outskirts of Wilkes-Barre in Luzerne County. With the arrival of this new sportsbook, residents of northeastern Pennsylvania will no longer have to travel to place a sports betting wager. Sports wagering enthusiasts will now be able to spend their time wining and dining instead of driving and driving. This will be the first casino in the area to offer live sports betting.

Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment presented a full color brochure of the new facility.

Run in – Run Out or Stay and Play

The sportsbook will be located right inside the door close to the front lobby. According to Mohegan Sun Pocono Casino President Tony Carlucci, “there are two different kinds of sports bettor” and he wants to make sure that all gamblers will have their preference, adding:

“You’re going to have the people that want to come, have a few drinks, have something to eat, and watch the games with their friends, and then you’re going to have the people that just want to come in really quick, put a bet in and then leave.”

Both types of gamblers will be well served.

The plans call for an 1130 sq. ft. facility. The new area will hold 75 patrons, to include 42 couch seats with an additional 23 high-backed chairs. Patrons will watch games on an 8 foot by 15 foot high definition video screen wall with an additional four 3′ x 6′ screens on the side so none of the action will be missed. The sportsbook will be a smoke-free environment with its location close to the door. The betting area will feature seven sports betting terminals and up to three teller booths.

Not only will the new facility serve local patrons and generate tax revenue for the commonwealth, but it will create an additional eleven new full time employment positions.

What kind of sports can be bet on at Mohegan Sun Pocono?

Customers will be able to place wagers on a large variety of sports. This list includes but is not limited to:

  • NFL, NCAA, MLB, NHL, NBA
  • Golf, Tennis, Canadian Football League
  • Tennis, Boxing, UFC, Rugby, Nascar
  • Major League Soccer, Premier League Soccer, LaLiga, Bundesliga and more

What types of bets will be offered?

Customers will be able to place a variety of different kinds of bets. This list includes:

  • Straight bets
  • Parlays
  • Round Robin
  • Fixed odds
  • Money Lines
  • Prop Bets
  • In-game betting

Mohegan Sun Pocono is one of Pennsylvania’s 6 licensed racinos featuring harness racing as well as a full Vegas-style casino with slots, table games, video poker, and live poker. This resort destination occupies 400 beautiful acres and has a four star hotel on site. Outlets for dining, drinking, entertainment, a spa and fitness center, and even some retail shopping await guests at this luxurious entertainment complex. Parking for 5,000 vehicles gives testimony to the casino’s size and popularity.

Mohegan Sun Pocono will have multiple partners in the new venture. European based Kindred Group, an operator in other Pennsylvania casinos, will be the sports wagering operator. Pala Interactive will provide player account management and technical integration to 3rd parties. Kambi will operate and run the book odds and technology, including risk monitoring and fraud prevention, pricing and trading. Novomatic will provide the sports betting terminals.

The Mohegan Sun Pocono plans to open the sportsbook sometime this fall, hopefully in time for the start of the college and NFL football seasons. Customers will be able to watch their favorite games on the numerous large screens, grab a bite to eat, and have an exciting Sunday with friends.

Eight Casinos in Pennsylvania Now Hold Licenses for Sports Betting

Including the Mohegan Sun Pocono, seven other casinos in the state of PA have received gaming control board approval to offer sports
betting. Most but not all are up and running today.

If you’d like to place a bet today on sports, you can do so at these six retail establishments: SugarHouse, Rivers, Parx ( all three locations),
Hollywood, Harrahs, and Valley Forge Casino.

Mount Airy Casino Resort in northeastern PA has also applied for a sportsbook license and is in the process of seeking approval from the PGCB.

Some relevant history

In October of 2017, the PA legislature passed laws legalizing online versions of peer-to-peer games (poker) and Vegas-style gaming like slots and table games. In addition, they legalized casinos in the state to offer sports betting (both retail and mobile), as well as providing regulations for Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS). These laws were passed in anticipation of the US Supreme Court clearing federal obstacles to state licensure of gambling, which they did in May of 2018 with the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in the landmark case of Murphy v. NCAA.

What did the new law do?

The 2017 legislation authorized the PGCB to offer each of the states thirteen casinos the right to apply for a sports betting license. The license costs $10 million and authorizes the casino to take sports bets in physical locations as well as online.

In addition to the hefty $10 million price tag for the license, sports betting revenues will also be taxed at 36%, a disproportionately high tax rate – both in comparison to other states and considering that traditional bookmaking on sports is a low-margin endeavor.

Sports Wagering Has Brought Tax Revenue to the Commonwealth

You don’t have to be a Pennsylvania resident to wager on sports in the state. In fact, PA is happy to play to host to neighboring gamblers. Tax revenue from sports betting so far has been:

  • November 2018: $183,238.77
  • December 2018: $722,356.00
  • January 2019: $938,597.00
  • February 2019: $700,853.95
  • March 2019: $1,986,962

The future is bright for sports betting in Pennsylvania.

Stadium Casino To Offer Sports Betting When It Opens

… sometime in December, 2020.

Stadium Casino is still 18 months away from opening its doors, but they have big plans. Last week, the casino’s operators indicated to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) that those plans will also include a retail sportsbook.

Big plans – and a lot of work to do.

Right now, Stadium Casino is just an idea. The foundations haven’t yet been laid for the casino that is envisioned in the “stadium” district of South Philadelphia near Lincoln Financial Field, Citizens Bank Park, and Wells Fargo Center.

The site (900 Packer Avenue) was formerly the location of a Holiday Inn. Hopefully, in 18 months a $600 million full Vegas-style casino and entertainment complex will emerge there.

When it does arrive, quite a few plans (and gaming licenses) will be actualized. The casino will run 24/7 and offer the traditional slots, video poker, and table (pit) games one associates with a modern American casino. On top of that, Stadium Casino operators have acquired a handful of additional gaming licenses. The sports betting license will cost $10 million and as yet, Stadium hasn’t applied for it (but they soon will).

Already in hand are licenses to allow Stadium to operate online slots and online casino games (at a price of $4 million each). In addition, Stadium operators have also spent $40 million on a license to allow them to branch out with a mini-casino. These are massive long-term plans considering that as of yet there is no actual Stadium Casino – and won’t be one for another 18 months.

The only gaming license Stadium turned down was one that allows online peer-to-peer gaming (poker). It isn’t really surprising that they passed on that one. The online poker market in PA is already expected to be crowded with eight casino operators holding licenses. That’s a lot, considering that PA online poker will be limited to an intra-state pool of players – at least to begin with.

Sports betting lucrative (and competitive) in Philly

Currently, Pennsylvania has approved eight casinos to operate sportsbooks in the state. A ninth (Mount Airy Casino) is pending and is expected to be approved. Stadium Casino will make ten.

Most of this sportsbook competition is in the Philadelphia region.  Currently, there are four casinos operating six retail sportsbooks (Parx Casino has three of them) in and around Philly. The other three are Harrah’s Philadelphia, SugarHouse, and Valley Forge Casino.

The sportsbooks are generating interest and income. In the brief amount of time sports betting has been legal in PA (Hollywood Casino opened PA’s first legal retail book late last year), the Philadelphia sportsbooks have taken over $70 million in wagers and netted over $7 million in revenue from sports betting.

This all means that Stadium Casino’s sportsbook will have to compete for customers in Philadelphia. Hopefully for them, being located close to the Philadelphia sports complexes will give them some help in this regard.

What will Stadium’s sportsbook look like?

It’s difficult to describe a sportsbook that doesn’t yet exist in a casino that doesn’t yet exist, but let’s take a shot.

Stadium officials have announced that their “sports betting parlor” will be connected to a sports bar. They have also said that Stadium “will become a premier sports, entertainment, and gaming hospitality destination in the US.”

And… that’s all we know, at least directly. However, we know Stadium Casino (at $600 million projected cost) is expected to be large and lavish. They are projected to have a 200,000 square foot gaming facility and a 220 room hotel. They will have 2,000 slot machines, 125 table games, and 33 poker tables.

All their endeavors are described as “lavish” and “boutique”, so considering the grand scope of Stadium’s plans, one should expect a sportsbook of comparable size, scope, and quality.

Considering that Stadium Casino’s development partners are the Cordish Company (owners of Xfinity Live! and Maryland Live!) and Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment Group (owners of Parx Casino), one should also expect they will successfully follow through on all these plans.

 

 

 

Kentucky Derby 2019 Stewards

Controversy In The Kentucky Derby: Did Churchill Downs Stewards Make The Right Call?

The Kentucky Derby is a spectacle with 20 3-year-old thoroughbred horses compete for a $3 million purse while 150,000 fans in hats cheer them on with mint juleps in hand. The race is the fastest and most thrilling two minutes in sports.

The 145th running of the Kentucky Derby did not disappoint, though the real excitement came after the race, when the track announcer informed the crowd that there was an objection, and the horse that crossed the wire first may not be the actual winner.

The Kentucky Derby field

The Kentucky Derby has an abundance of extremes. Up to 20 horses compete in the race, more than in any other North American race. As many as 150,000 fans could be on site, with tens of millions more watching live. Over $140 million is wagered into all the pools for all the different Derby bet types. It is a high-pressure situation for all involved.

Though there are up to 20 horses in the race, the field has been selectively narrowed down to find some of the best 3-year-old thoroughbreds in training. Kentucky Derby hopefuls compete in designated prep races that award points to the top finishers and only the top horses by total points are invited to the Derby. Horses don’t get there by chance. Entries have proven talent and ability and each one is deserving of a spot in the gate.

The incident

Maximum Security had displayed his talent at Gulfstream Park, winning his early races impressively before capturing the Florida Derby (G1), which awarded him more than enough points to enter the field. Statistically speaking, his chances in the Kentucky Derby were good – three of the previous six Derby winners had also won the Florida Derby.

However, the young colt had only raced four times and would be facing horses in the race with more experience, some who had twice as many races under their belt already. He was the only horse to have run at just one track, and he had the least experience in stakes races, where he would be likely to face a crowd.

As the field came around the final turn, Maximum Security was in the lead, as he had been throughout the race. Suddenly, he veered out and into the path of War of Will, causing a chain reaction of interference that also affected Country House and worst of all Long Range Toddy, who was forced to check badly and nearly pulled out of the race.

What caused Maximum Security to veer out? His jockey, Luis Saez, said that he thought the colt was reacting to the crows, which was certainly a sight the horse had never seen before. Saez reacted swiftly to straighten out the horse, while Tyler Gaffalione deftly maneuvered his mount, War of Will, through the near collision.

Interference or just another race?

Some contact between horses running alongside each other is natural, and horses are allowed to move over across the track if they are clear of the horses behind them. In this instance, Maximum Security was not clear of the horse behind him. He actually ran into the horse behind him. Close-up video and images of the race show War of Will craning his head and neck out of the way of the hip of the horse now in his path while the back legs of Maximum Security and War of Will ran intertwined for a few horrifying, critical strides.

Luckily, War of Will did not fall in the event, nor did any horses stumble behind him or Long Range Toddy in the incident, a miracle given the traffic, the wet and muddy track, and the possible chain reaction that could have echoed back through the rest of the entire field.

According to rules set forth in the Kentucky Administrative Regulations, Title 810, a foul is committed in the following circumstances:

A leading horse if clear is entitled to any part of the track. If a leading horse or any other horse in a race swerves or is ridden to either side so as to interfere with, intimidate, or impede any other horse or jockey, or to cause the same result, this action shall be deemed a foul. If a jockey strikes another horse or jockey, it is a foul.

Stewards have the right to disqualify a horse in this instance:

If in the opinion of the stewards a foul alter the finish of a race, an offending horse may be disqualified by the stewards.

Safety in the hands of the stewards

Racing is a surprisingly highly regulated sport. It combines a wagering contest with physical activity of humans and equines, so it is held to high standards both in terms of a fair, transparent and secure gambling operation as well as maintaining a safe environment and ensuring the health and welfare of all participants.

Everyone involved shares in the responsibility of track safety, but it is the stewards who must uphold and enforce all racing rules for the safety and integrity of the sport.

This includes monitoring the running of each horse race and interpreting the rules for its conduct. Three stewards watch every race from their vantage point high above the track, with different camera angles and video feeds as resources.

If stewards see something they think warrants a closer look, they will post an inquiry, which means there will be a delay in the race going official while they examine the race. Or, a jockey or trainer of one of the horses may call the stewards and lodge an objection into the running of the race, and the stewards will hear both sides and review the race replays.

Not all inquiries or objections result in disqualification. But when they do, the decision was made after careful consideration, multiple replays of the race from different angles, and input from those involved. The people who made the decision are highly trained specialists in their field with years of experience and a tremendous responsibility to promote safety among the horses and riders.

Historical disqualifications

Disqualifications are uncommon, but they seem to occur less frequently in high-profile races than in everyday racing across the country. When there is a disqualification in a stakes race, the impact feels greater because of the horses, connections, money, and even the potential impact on breeding demand in the future. Rarely is there agreement on these outcomes, and even when there is, there is also shared disappointment.

One disqualification happened to the most famous racehorse of all time. Secretariat suffered his only loss of his 2-year-old year because he interfered with Stop the Music in the 1972 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park and was disqualified.

Triple Crown winner Affirmed was disqualified in one of the ten duels against his rival, Alydar. Even last fall, Kentucky Oaks winner and Champion 3-Year-Old Filly Monomoy Girl was disqualified for interference down the stretch at Parx in the $1,000,000 Cotillion Stakes (G1), giving Midnight Bisou one of her career eight graded stakes wins.

This Kentucky Derby is one that no one who watched will ever forget, and it will join the ranks of these memorable racing moments. Regardless of what else he accomplishes in his career, Maximum Security has a place in the racing history books forever.

Racing, and its horses, kive to see another day

Had any one of the horses fallen as a result of the interference, we would not be so fortunate as to be here debating whether it was the right call. We would be mourning the injuries, and possible deaths, of multiple horses. We would be praying for our injured jockeys. We would be trying to scrub the image of a multiple horse pile-up from our memory. And, we would be trying desperately to defend the sport of horse racing and the catastrophe that happened on our biggest stage.

The disqualification of Maximum Security was a disappointment, but it was a small price to pay compared to what it could have cost all of us who love the sport of horse racing.

PA Online Poker: 5 Questions You’d Like Answered

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) just named July 15, 2019 as when Pennsylvania casinos can begin offering online gambling to the public. Casinos will host online versions of slot games, traditional table games, and peer-to-peer games, most importantly online poker.

Online poker was once a mainstay for US poker players who didn’t reside in Las Vegas or near another legal brick and mortar poker room. It began in the late 1990s and rode poker’s 2003 “boom” until its zenith (and demise) on April 15, 2011 when the US government effectively killed the entire industryThat’s when the DOJ seized the domains of online poker’s top operators and prosecuted many of their founders. Ever since online poker’s aptly named “Black Friday”, almost all activity in that market dried up and blew away. The only remaining online poker action is in the tiny player pools in intra-state sites that can still operate in Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey.

This summer, Pennsylvania will be the fourth state to legally re-enter the online poker market and will be the biggest player pool in the country. It’s also the country’s 5th most populous state with 12 million people.

New Jersey is the top casino gambling market in the US right now, but PA should eventually surpass it in both handle and revenue. Other state legislatures are looking on with interest. If a big market like PA achieves success, it may prompt other states to likewise expand their legal gambling markets. For example, legal sports betting (both live and online) is rapidly expanding in the US and it’s natural for legislators to consider one as they consider the other.

So what will online poker look like when it comes back to PA?

Which sites will spread online poker?

Will the same brands that existed prior to Black Friday still be operating in PA upon the summer’s launch? Different ones? Who’s on deck?

So far, eight casino operators have received online poker licenses from the PGCB. Despite it’s 12 million in population, it is difficult to imagine eight separate poker sites thriving in this limited intra-state player pool. Even more potentially congesting, each license allows an operator to host as many skins (brands) as they like.

Here’s a list of the casinos currently holding an online poker license in PA:

Of course, we have no guarantee all of these casinos will launch online poker, but they have all paid for permission. Only time will tell which of them enter the market – and which of them survive.

Which online poker site will be top dog in PA?

To get a sense of what PA’s online poker market will look like soon, let’s look at neighboring New Jersey’s market right now.

Three of NJ’s online poker operators are likely to be important in the new PA market. These are WSOP (Harrah’s Philadelphia), PokerStars (Mount Airy), and MGM/Borgata.

MGM is unlikely to reign supreme in PA. In NJ they are the third most successful operator and MGM has no physical presence (or poker room) in the state. MGM became eligible to operate online gaming as a Qualified Gaming Entity (QGE) when the PGCB was unable to sell all the licenses they had created – these were intended for their local casinos.

What about the other two? Both are very well-known brands. PokerStars is the global leader in the field but that advantage doesn’t necessarily transfer in a ring-fenced market. WSOP is also a world-famous brand and now tops the online poker market in NJ. PokerStars used to be first, but lost the lead largely due to a player pool sharing agreement between New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware that so far only benefits the WSOP brand. All else equal, players prefer playing in larger pools than smaller ones.

So will WSOP or PokerStars fight it out for dominance in PA?

Maybe, but there are two more contenders to consider. Parx Casino has been very active in the new expansion of gambling opportunities in the state. Parx also runs the busiest live poker room in the state (with 48 tables). This poker room controls roughly 30% of the live poker market. It wouldn’t be shocking if Parx Casino and their technical partner GAN do very well in PA.

The other wild card is PartyPoker, who has partnered with Valley Forge Casino. PartyPoker was well-known to players in the heyday of the US online poker market in the early 2000s. Also, Valley Forge is owned by Boyd Gaming, a veteran poker operator in both live and online settings.

How profitable will online poker be in PA?

Again, a comparison to New Jersey will be helpful to answer this question:

New Jersey online poker sites collected $2.8 million in rake during their first full month of operations – December 2013. Bear in mind; this was just two and a half years after Black Friday so online poker still had a strong buzz throughout the US.

Online poker revenues have slipped since then. This is likely due to being restricted to a much smaller pool of players than customers are accustomed to. Revenues are stagnant. Last month (and over 5 years later) NJ’s online poker sites collected just $1.9 million in rake. Annual figures reveal the problem: In their first post-Black Friday year of operation (2014) New Jersey’s online poker revenue $29.06 million. Annual revenues haven’t been that high since.

Again, this understandable. Small player pools lead to fewer games, fewer types of games, and less interest in playing them.

Here’s a revenue projection: PA’s first full month of online poker rake will probably be less than NJ’s opening $2.8 million number in December 2013. PA has a larger live poker market, but there are offsetting factors. Interest in online poker in the US has diminished since Black Friday. Also, mobile sports betting arrives in PA early in May and alongside online poker comes online slots and table games. These other gambling verticals will be competing with online poker for the attention, time, and disposable income of Pennsylvanians. For all these reasons, PA online poker’s revenues will probably be underwhelming, at least to start.

Despite this, eventually the Keystone State’s larger population of poker players won’t be denied and the PA market will surpass the declining NJ market. In time Pennsylvania will most likely achieve #1 spot in US online poker.

Will online poker be a boon or a blight to live poker in PA?

Live poker in Pennsylvania’s live poker market is sizable, but struggling. In 2018, the state’s ten land-based poker rooms dropped $55.69 million in rake. That’s a 6% decline from 2017, which itself was flat compared to 2016.

It’s not like the casino’s have abandoned live poker, either. Sands and Parx and Harrah’s recently revamped their live poker rooms but the changes had little impact. Could online poker help? It didn’t in New Jersey or Nevada. The addition of online poker (admittedly in ring-fenced fashion) did nothing to boost live poker games in those markets.

However, there could very well be synergies to be found between a casino’s live poker room and its online poker presence. Perhaps one of these Pennsylvania casino operators will figure out the technique that makes a harmonious marriage between the two forms.

Alternatively, adding online poker may lead marginal brick and mortar poker rooms in PA to close down. Presque Isle Casino and Mohegan Sun Pocano seem the most vulnerable to this outcome. Each is a smaller room, and neither bothered acquiring a license to spread online poker.

Merged player pools: Can’t we all just get along?

For people who love to play poker online, this is the most important question of all. Playing in a tiny ring-fenced player pool just… well… sucks. For players to remain interested in playing online in PA, an eventual merger of player pools will have to occur. Failing to do so will mean the same stagnant revenues seen in New Jersey and Nevada.

To begin with, PA regulators should seek to join the fledgling player pool sharing agreement (14 million players) between Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey. Then they should seek to incorporate the 2 million potential players coming online when West Virginia legalizes online poker next year and also the 10 million eligible when Michigan follows in the very near future. Rinse and repeat until once again, US players can play with the entire globe of players.

One disastrous fly in this ointment is the DOJ’s new “interpretation” of the Wire Act. Pennsylvania regulators can’t even consider allowing gambling transactions that cross state lines until this new DOJ/Wire Act situation is resolved.

The issue is currently being argued in a New Hampshire court and many interested parties across the country are keenly observing. A lot is riding on the outcome. Unfortunately, the matter likely won’t be decided definitively until the US Supreme Court weighs in, and that could take a while.

Will Out-Of-State Competition Disrupt Rivers Casino Sportsbook’s Privileged Position?

Rivers Casino has enjoyed operating with almost no competition in Western Pennsylvania for over four months.

Located in Pittsburgh, Rivers Casino is around 200 miles away from the rest of the state’s casino sportsbook operators, who are centered in and around the Philadelphia area. The Pennsylvania sports betting market has existed since the first sportsbook opened last November at Hollywood Casino. Rivers Casino’s sportsbook has been all alone in Pittsburgh since they opened last December.

Competition for Rivers Casino’s sportsbook is coming, it just won’t be from within the Keystone State. Rather, the competition will come from casino operators next-door in West Virginia and Ohio.

The owner and operator of Rivers Casino, Rush Street Interactive (RSI) isn’t too worried. For them, the most important thing is that they continue to do a great job focusing on providing a great experience for the customer. Do that and the rest comes easy.

Rivers Casino sportsbook is the king in PA

Still, having the entire market in the western half of the state to yourself helps as well.

Rivers Casino boasts the highest sportsbook handle in all of Pennsylvania through February. Rivers only trails its sister property, SugarHouse (in Philly), in the category of overall sports betting revenue, and only by less than $200,000.

Here’s a stat that reveals Rivers’ dominance: Since December, Rivers has accounted for more than 28% of PA casinos’ overall sports betting handle. That’s huge. As one of PA’s eight currently operating sportsbooks, Rivers comprises only 12.5% of the state’s retail sportsbook locations yet gobbles up over twice that percentage in overall state sportsbook handle.

Here’s another revealing stat: Rivers Casino’s total sportsbook revenue is $2.55 million. The average Philadelphia casino’s total sportsbook revenue is only $854,000.

Clearly, Rivers is benefiting from its de facto monopoly position in Western PA.

Kambi Group runs ’em both the same

Despite having such different competitive pressures (or lack thereof), RSI (and sportsbook partner Kambi Group) makes no distinction between the books as far as operations go. Sportsbook odds, lines, and pricing are identical at Rivers and SugarHouse. No consideration is made to “take advantage” of their isolation in Pittsburgh.

Perhaps that’s a strategic decision made to keep state regulators at the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) happy. Or maybe this approach is technically preferable for the Kambi Group. Or perhaps this strategy will make things simple when the casinos will soon be rolling out mobile sports betting apps.

Whatever the reason, The books are run identically. Sports bettors at either Rivers or SugarHouse won’t see any differences in the lines between the properties.

Dethroned by out-of-state casinos?

Rivers Casino’s biggest competition won’t be coming from within Pennsylvania, but rather from outside the state.

South of Pittsburgh, West Virginia is on its eighth month of legalized sports betting. Mountaineer Casino in West Virginia is just an hour away from Pittsburgh by car.

Arguably a bigger problem than nearby Mountaineer Casino is the prospect of mobile sports betting coming from West Virginia. Residents of Western Pennsylvania would only need to drive to the state border to use their app. Mobile sports betting was up and running in WV, but the site(s) went down recently due to a dispute between casino owner Delaware North and sports betting partner Miomni.

That problem will be resolved eventually and regardless, DraftKings and FanDuel are also operating in WV and will have their mobile betting platforms up and running very soon. Competition via mobile apps is coming.

The most worrying long-term competition for Rivers Casino’s sportsbook probably comes from the west. Ohio is on the verge of authorizing sports betting within its borders in the next year or two. It’s a question of when, not if and when it comes, mobile sports betting will come with it.

Rivers Casino owner RSI isn’t talking about threats of competition and they don’t appear worried. They just keep plugging away and making hay while the sun shines. And when you’re the only sportsbook for miles around, the sun shines brightly.