Legal Gambling Laws in the State of Pennsylvania

Legal Gambling Laws in the State of Pennsylvania

The world of gambling is most prevailing now than ever, thanks to the few countries that have kept it alive through the years. Although the practice of gambling was prevalent during the initial days, it is at its zenith today. Over the years, new countries and states have joined the gambling world, accepting the practice as a legal form of entertainment. Amongst the few states is Pennsylvania, which the residents initially practiced lottery, charity games, and horse-racing as the only form of gambling. However, following the launch of the casino market in 2014, Pennsylvania has gone on to become the second-largest thriving state in terms of gambling revenues. Here is a brief rapid-fire overview of the history of gambling in Pennsylvania and its gambling laws.

Legal Gambling Laws in the State of Pennsylvania

Early days of Pennsylvania gambling

The practice of horse racing in Pennsylvania can be dated back to 200 years ago. However, it was not until in 1964, that the very first form of official gambling in Pennsylvania, horse racing, was legalized. Before the official legalization, several tracks were operated off the racebooks, where the bettings were handled through underground networks. It was only recently when the state decided it was better off regulating and taxing the race market than to let it operate underground. Then, the lottery gambling was created in 1971, where the first ticket was sold in half a dollar with a $1 million grand prize. Next, the Racehorse Development and Gaming Act was signed in 2004, permitted racetracks to add games like slots, video poker, and electronic table games, to save the racing industry. This was followed by the addition of table games and Live Poker in 2010.

After the last addition of the table games, the gambling industry in Pennsylvania escalated to the roof. This led the state to bag the title of the highest state in terms of gaming revenue, which the state is retaining the title even today. From the beginning of 2013, the state has included more gambling games like online Poker and casino games and plans to expand the betting industry to daily fantasy sports.

Current legal types of Pennsylvania gambling

Pennsylvania gambling allows almost all types of betting games for its citizens. Initially, the state started with games like slots, video poker, and electronic table games, but later expanded its market to Live Poker, Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, and every other card game. There are currently a total of twelve casinos and seven racetracks in Pennsylvania, offering all the classic and latest casino games and live racing events. There are also the variants of lottery that sell scratch-off tickets and lotto drawings, which are effortlessly available at convenience stores throughout the state. The lotteries are usually of two types – Pennsylvania-only lotto drawings and multi-state lottery drawings. Additionally, Bingo games are also widely played at several licensed Bingo halls.

Pennsylvania gambling laws

PGCB or the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is the licensing agency responsible for issuing casino licenses in Pennsylvania. To date, a total of fourteen casino licenses have been issued by the agency, where seven of them are dedicated to the state’s racetracks. The rest of the five licenses were granted to self-governing Pennsylvania casinos and two licenses towards resorts. Meanwhile, another new casino is on its way, which will then make a total of 15 casinos.

The casinos in Pennsylvania pay a 55% tax rate on slots, video poker, and electronic table games, while they pay 16% tax rate on Live pokers and table games. For Bingo, charities may be applied, which usually costs $100 for a year. The winning value of a single Bingo game is not more than $250, except for jackpot drawings, in which one can win between $2,000 to $4,000. The Bingo events are not allowed to be held more than two nights a week, while exceptions are made for charities that only hold annual celebrations. Such groups are allowed to organize the Bingo event up to 10 consecutive days. For lotteries, there are two types – instant games and lotto drawings. The instant game lottery is also referred to as scratch-off tickets. Lastly, for horse racing events, seven tracks are licensed and certified in Pennsylvania to offer live races. The horse racing live tracks are partnered with online betting apps so that players can make deposits and withdrawals with ease.


Name: Legal Gambling Laws in the State of Pennsylvania
Author: Laura Stotler
Published Date: 17/10/2019