Gambling in Pennsylvania is centered around the local racetracks and casinos, which include Parx Casino, Harrah’s Philadelphia or Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Slots and table games are available in most licensed gambling establishments, while pari-mutuel betting is offered both at the racetracks and by designated off-track facilities. Pennsylvania allows charitable gambling and operates its own lottery, but the state has not introduced any iGaming-friendly legislation so far.
How to Gamble Online for Real Money in Pennsylvania
The specific legal status of offshore sites is impossible to determine due to the fact that Pennsylvania gambling regulations are somewhat outdated and simply fail to address the issue of internet gaming. However, those issues are of no concern for individual iGaming enthusiasts because participating in unregulated games as a player is not considered a punishable offense.
As a result, Pennsylvania residents and visitors are essentially free to play on any offshore sites they want without having to worry about legal repercussions.
Pennsylvania residents have plenty of US-friendly online gambling sites to choose from, which tends to result in some confusion among inexperienced gamblers. If you’d like to improve your first iGaming experience by choosing the right site from the get-go, you should follow a few very basic guidelines.
If you want to play casino games, you don’t have to worry about traffic all that much, as the number of active players doesn’t affect anything aside from jackpot dynamics. This means that you’re essentially free to search for sites that offer the best bonuses and game selection. Poker rooms are quite different in this regard, as the player pool determines the quality of cash games and the size of guaranteed tournament prize pools.
When it comes to online sports betting, finding a quality site will require picking a few reputable operators and comparing their offers in terms of prices, event coverage, available markets and live betting options.
Pennsylvania Casino Games
Pennsylvania is currently transitioning from prohibiting gambling to regulating it. After 2013, PA began to rapidly open casinos across the state but has yet to legalize table games. Any establishment with a liquor license may legally operate the games of chance defined as legal by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), including video poker.
Some of the most popular casinos in Pennsylvania include:
- Harrah’s Philadelphia located in Chester.
- Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course located in Grantville.
- Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin located in Farmington
- Mount Airy Casino Resort located at Mount Pocono
Since the legalization of casinos in Pennsylvania is still fresh, all of the state’s gambling establishments benefit from the perks of modern construction. Players looking to gamble from home can use our list of recommended Pennsylvania online casinos. These offshore casinos also offer table games – online Blackjack, Roulette, and Craps.
Pennsylvania residents may legally own and operate an antique slot machine older than 25 years within their private residence as long as they don’t generate revenue from it.
Pennsylvania Sportsbooks & Betting
Although sports betting isn’t legal in Pennsylvania yet, this is likely to change soon. In late 2017, Governor Tom Wolf agreed to sign a bill (HB 271) approving the legalization of sports gambling once it’s permitted on the federal level.
With the 2018 Supreme Court decision allowing states to pass their own sports betting laws, the final legislation needed for legalization in Pennsylvania began pushing its way through the various processes required to implement sports gambling. State Representative Rob Matzie hopes sports betting will be legalized by the end of 2018.
eSports and fantasy gambling
Pennsylvania law does not include any special exemptions or definitions for electronic (eSports) gambling, placing it in the same category as traditional sports gambling. Once sports gaming is legalized, eSports gaming will be legal too – unless an additional clause prohibiting it is added to the bill.
The same bill signed by Tom Wolf also legalized fantasy sports and daily fantasy sports (DFS) gambling in Pennsylvania, making it the 17th state to provide legal DFS. HB271 outlined the licensing structure for operators, instilled regulations for customer protections, and set the tax rate on all fantasy gambling operators at 15%. Players located in Pennsylvania can currently access popular DFS websites such as DraftKings and FanDuel.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is also responsible for the regulation and taxation of horse race betting. So far, the PGCB has legalized bets on horse/harness racing, interstate simulcast gaming, and both on-track and off-track pari-mutuel wagering.
Pennsylvania is home to numerous horse racing tracks. Here are some of the most popular establishments:
- Ladbroke at the Meadows located in Pittsburgh.
- Penn National Race Course located at the foot of the Blue Mountains.
- Philadelphia Parx located in Philadelphia.
Poker Games in Pennsylvania
Poker is currently illegal in Pennsylvania, even in private residential homes.
The state considers illegal gambling a first-degree misdemeanor, carrying charges of up to $10,000 in fines and five years in prison.
Players looking to fulfill their poker needs may do so at online poker sites that accept Pennsylvania residents.
In 1971, Pennsylvania’s General Assembly formed the Pennsylvania State Lottery and began selling tickets to citizens over the age of 18.
The Pennsylvania State Lottery offers a great selection of draw games, including:
- Pick 2, 3, 4, and 5
- Wild Ball
- Cash 5
- Match 6
- Treasure Hunt
Although the Pennsylvania State Lottery has been around since the 70s, it wasn’t until 2010 that multi-state lotteries were introduced. Currently, players can choose to gamble with popular multi-state lotteries such as:
- Mega Millions
Lottery winners receive 40% of the payout prize. After operator expenses are paid, the state of Pennsylvania claims the remainder of the winnings. Lottery winners must claim their money within one year; otherwise, it all goes to the state. Prizes can also be subject to garnishment.
Unlike most states that use lottery taxes to fund public education, Pennsylvania requires all lottery revenue to be spent on social programs such as senior center staffing and social security checks.
Pennsylvania Bingo Games
According to Section 301 of Pennsylvania Bingo Law, Pennsylvania allows any qualified charity to host Bingo games. The Bingo game category includes punchboards, daily drawings, raffles, and pull-tabs.
Popular Bingo hall locations include:
- Astor Bingo Hall located in Allentown.
- Hamlin Fire & Rescue Bingo located in Hamlin.
- Uptown Bingo II located in Harrisburg
Pennsylvania Online Gambling FAQ
How Do I Get Started?
Getting started isn’t much of an issue if you already know which site you want to join. Your next step should be to open a new gambling account, make the first deposit and validate your account by submitting a scanned photo ID. Once that final step is out of the way, you should be able to start playing real money games or placing wagers.
How Do I Get My Money if I Win?
The funds tied to your on-site account are always at your disposal, so if you need a payout all you need to do is open the cashier menu and place the appropriate request, which will usually take about 2 days to process. Most sites prefer to use wire transfers for cash outs, so, all in all, you’ll probably have to wait about two weeks before you receive your winnings.
What is the minimum age to gamble online in Pennsylvania?
You have to be at least 18 years old in order to open a real money online gambling account. Please note that this isn’t affected by the Pennsylvania legal casino age, which is set to 21.
How do I open an account?
All you need to do is visit the site in question and fill out a simple form by providing the necessary personal information. Keep in mind that you’ll have to confirm your identity before you’ll be allowed to engage in real money gambling.
Where can I open my account from?
Pennsylvania residents are free to open an account from anywhere in the United States.
From where can I access Pennsylvania online gambling sites?
You can access most of the offshore sites from anywhere in the US. Some operators even allow logging in from abroad. Just keep in mind that not every US state is iGaming friendly: both Washington and Utah have very strict anti-online gambling regulations.
Where can I familiarize myself with the official regulations over gambling in Pennsylvania?
Your first step should definitely be to check out Section 5512 of Pennsylvania Statutes.
How do I deposit to my online gambling account?
Most sites will encourage you to deposit via a standard Visa/MasterCard credit card payment. Other options are available with very few sites.
How do I withdraw my winnings?
Most Pennsylvania-facing sites allow you to cash out via wire transfer or via check by mail.
Is my money safe?
Your money will be safe if you stick to trustworthy sites such as the ones listed here. There are many scammers that host faux Pennsylvania-friendly iGaming sites, so you should be very careful when it comes to transferring your money to any sites that you aren’t well familiar with.
What body regulates gambling in Pennsylvania?
Legal gambling in Pennsylvania is handled by Pennsylvania Horse & Harness Racing Commissions and Pennsylvania Lottery.
Sources:Pennsylvania Gambling Laws (see full text)
Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes (from 18 Pa C.S.A.)
§ 903 Criminal conspiracy
(a) Definition of conspiracy.–A person is guilty of conspiracy with another person or persons to commit a crime if with the intent of promoting or facilitating its commission he:
(1) agrees with such other person or persons that they or one or more of them will engage in conduct which constitutes such crime or an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime; or
(2) agrees to aid such other person or persons in the planning or commission of such crime or of an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime.
(b) Scope of conspiratorial relationship.–If a person guilty of conspiracy, as defined by subsection (a) of this section, knows that a person with whom he conspires to commit a crime has conspired with another person or persons to commit the same crime, he is guilty of conspiring with such other person or persons, to commit such crime whether or not he knows their identity.
(c) Conspiracy with multiple criminal objectives.–If a person conspires to commit a number of crimes, he is guilty of only one conspiracy so long as such multiple crimes are the object of the same agreement or continuous conspiratorial relationship.
(d) Joinder and venue in conspiracy prosecutions.–
(1) Subject to the provisions of paragraph (2) of this subsection, two or more persons charged with criminal conspiracy may be prosecuted jointly if:
(i) they are charged with conspiring with one another; or
(ii) the conspiracies alleged, whether they have the same or different parties, are so related that they constitute different aspects of a scheme of organized criminal conduct.
(2) In any joint prosecution under paragraph (1) of this subsection:
(i) no defendant shall be charged with a conspiracy in any county other than one in which he entered into such conspiracy or in which an overt act pursuant to such conspiracy was done by him or by a person with whom he conspired;
(ii) neither the liability of any defendant nor the admissibility against him of evidence of acts or declarations of another shall be enlarged by such joinder; and
(iii) the court shall order a severance or take a special verdict as to any defendant who so requests, if it deems it necessary or appropriate to promote the fair determination of his guilt or innocence, and shall take any other proper measures to protect the fairness of the trial.
(e) Overt act.–No person may be convicted of conspiracy to commit a crime unless an overt act in pursuant of such conspiracy is alleged and proved to have been done by him or by a person with whom he conspired.
(f) Renunciation.–It is a defense that the actor, after conspiring to commit a crime, thwarted the success of the conspiracy, under circumstances manifesting a complete and voluntary renunciation of his criminal intent.
(g) Duration of conspiracy.–For purposes of 42 Pa.C.S. § 5552(d) (relating to commission of offense):
(1) conspiracy is a continuing course of conduct which terminates when the crime or crimes which are its object are committed or the agreement that they be committed is abandoned by the defendant and by those with whom he conspired;
(2) such abandonment is presumed if neither the defendant nor any one with whom he conspired does any overt act in pursuance of the conspiracy during the applicable period of limitation; and
(3) if an individual abandons the agreement, the conspiracy is terminated as to him only if and when he advises those with whom he conspired of his abandonment or he informs the law enforcement authorities of the existence of the conspiracy and of his participation therein.
§ 5512. Lotteries, etc.
(a) Status of activity.–All unlawful lotteries or numbers games are hereby declared to be common nuisances. Every transfer of property which shall be in pursuance of any unlawful lottery or numbers game is hereby declared to be invalid and void.
(b) Offense defined.–A person is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree if he:
(1) sets up, or maintains, any lottery or numbers game;
(2) manufactures or prints, or sells, exposes for sale or has in his possession with intent to sell any unlawful lottery or numbers ticket or share, or any writing, token or other device purporting or intending to entitle the holder or bearer, or any other person, to any prize to be drawn or obtained in any lottery, or numbers game; or
(3) publishes any advertisement of any lottery or numbers game.
(c) Status of purchaser.–The purchaser of any such ticket, or device, shall not be liable to any prosecution or penalty arising out of this crime, and shall in all respects be a competent witness to prove the offense.
(d) Definition.–As used in this section the term “unlawful” means not specifically authorized by law.
§ 5513. Gambling devices, gambling, etc.:
(a) Offense defined. — A person is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree if he:
(1) intentionally or knowingly makes, assembles, sets up, maintains, sells, lends, leases, gives away, or offers for sale, loan, lease or gift, any punch board, drawing card, slot machine or any device to be used for gambling purposes, except playing cards;
(2) allows persons to collect and assemble for the purpose of unlawful gambling at any place under his control;
(3) solicits or invites any person to visit any unlawful gambling place for the purpose of gambling; or
(4) being the owner, tenant, lessee or occupant of any premises, knowingly permits or suffers the same, or any part thereof, to be used for the purpose of unlawful gambling.
(a.1) Electronic video monitor. — A person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree if he owns, operates, maintains, places into operation or has a financial interest in an electronic video monitor or business that owns, operates, maintains or places into operation or has a financial interest in an electronic video monitor:
(1) which is offered or made available to persons to play or participate in a simulated gambling program for direct or indirect consideration, including consideration associated with a related product, service or activity; and
(2) for which the person playing the simulated gambling program may become eligible for a cash or cash-equivalent prize, whether or not the eligibility for or value of the cash or cash-equivalent prize is determined by or has any relationship to the outcome of or play of the simulated gambling program.
(b) Confiscation of gambling devices. — Any gambling device possessed or used in violation of the provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall be seized and forfeited to the Commonwealth. All provisions of law relating to the seizure, summary and judicial forfeiture, and condemnation of intoxicating liquor shall apply to seizures and forfeitures under the provisions of this section.
(c) Antique slot machines.
(1) A slot machine shall be established as an antique slot machine if the defendant shows by a preponderance of the evidence that it was manufactured at least 25 years before the current year and that it was not used or attempted to be used for any unlawful purposes. Notwithstanding subsection (b), no antique slot machine seized from any defendant shall be destroyed or otherwise altered until the defendant is given an opportunity to establish that the slot machine is an antique slot machine. After a final court determination that the slot machine is an antique slot machine, the slot machine shall be returned pursuant to the provisions of law providing for the return of property; otherwise, the slot machine shall be destroyed.
(2) It is the purpose of this subsection to protect the collection and restoration of antique slot machines not presently utilized for gambling purposes.
(d) Shipbuilding business. — Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section, a person may construct, deliver, convert or repair a vessel that is equipped with gambling devices if all of the following conditions are satisfied:
(1) The work performed on the vessel is ordered by a customer who uses or possesses the vessel outside of this Commonwealth in a locality where the use or possession of the gambling devices on the vessel is lawful.
(2) The work performed on the vessel that is equipped with gambling devices is performed at a shipbuilding or repair yard located within a port facility under the jurisdiction of any port authority organized under the act of December 6, 1972 (P.L.1392, No.298) , known as the Third Class City Port Authority Act.
(3) The person provides the Office of Attorney General, prior to the importation of the gambling devices into this Commonwealth, records that account for the gambling devices, including the identification number affixed to each gambling device by the manufacturer, and that identify the location where the gambling devices will be stored prior to the installation of the gambling devices on the vessel.
(4) The person stores the gambling devices at a secured location and permits any person authorized to enforce the gambling laws to inspect the location where the gambling devices are stored and records relating to the storage of the gambling devices.
(5) If the person removes used gambling devices from a vessel, the person shall provide the Office of Attorney General of Pennsylvania with an inventory of the used gambling devices prior to their removal from the vessel. The inventory shall include the identification number affixed to each gambling device by the manufacturer.
(6) The person submits documentation to the Office of Attorney General of Pennsylvania no later than 30 days after the date of delivery that the vessel equipped with gambling devices has been delivered to the customer who ordered the work performed on the vessel.
(7) The person does not sell a gambling device to any other person except to a customer who shall use or possess the gambling device outside of this Commonwealth in a locality where the use or possession of the gambling device is lawful. If a person sells a gambling device to such a customer, the person shall submit documentation to the Office of Attorney General of Pennsylvania no later than 30 days after the date of delivery that the gambling device has been delivered to the customer.
(e) Penalty. — Any person who fails to provide records as provided in subsection (d) commits a summary offense.
(e.1) Construction. — Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit any activity that is lawfully conducted under any of the following:
(1) The act of August 26, 1971 (P.L. 351, No. 91), known as the State Lottery Law.
(2) The act of July 10, 1981 (P.L. 214, No. 67), known as the Bingo Law.
(3) The act of December 19, 1988 (P.L. 1262, No. 156), known as the Local Option Small Games of Chance Act.
(4) 4 Pa.C.S. (relating to amusements).
(f) Definitions. — The following words and phrases when used in this section shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
“Consideration associated with a related product, service or activity.” —Money or other value collected for a product, service or activity which is offered in any direct or indirect relationship to playing or participating in the simulated gambling program. The term includes consideration paid for computer time, internet time, telephone calling cards and a sweepstakes entry.
“Electronic video monitor.” —An electronic device capable of showing moving or still images.
“Simulated gambling program.” —Any method intended to be used by a person interacting with an electronic video monitor in a business establishment that directly or indirectly implements the predetermination of sweepstakes cash or cash-equivalent prizes or otherwise connects the sweepstakes player or participant with the cash or cash-equivalent prize.
§ 5514. Pool selling and bookmaking.
A person is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree if he:
(1) engages in pool selling or bookmaking;
(2) occupies any place for the purpose of receiving, recording or registering bets or wagers, or of selling pools;
(3) receives, records, registers, forwards, or purports or pretends to forward, to another, any bet or wager upon the result of any political nomination, appointment or election, or upon any contest of any nature;
(4) becomes the custodian or depository, for gain or ward, of any property staked, wagered or pledged, or to be staked, wagered, or pledged upon any such result; or
(5) being the owner, lessee, or occupant of any premises, knowingly permits or suffers the same, to be used or occupied for any of such purposes.