On February 4th, the Philadelphia Eagles will be playing in their first Super Bowl since 2005. It’s an exciting time not only for Eagles fans but also to sports bettors across the country and Pennsylvania. It is estimated that over $4 billion is wagered on the Super Bowl every year. The Eagles will head into the game as a 5 or 6 point underdog, depending on the sports book.
Unfortunately, for Pennsylvania’s nearly 13 million citizens they can only legally bet in one way in the United States – by physically going to Nevada.
Sports betting is widespread in PA
The only other option for Pennsylvanians is going the underground route – through online or local bookmakers, something that lawmakers agree is not lawful. Of course, that’s not stopping the huge amount of Super Bowl wagers estimated to take place for this year’s game. And in case you were wondering, only $100 million or so of that figure occurs in Nevada, less than 5%. That’s even before considering that the sports betting market is worth up to $400 billion per year.
Clearly, Pennsylvanians and millions of Americans are finding a way to wager on football and other sports. Years of trying to stop or limit sports betting has not worked. But rather than attempt to simply restrict the activity, a movement is underway to legalize sports betting outside of Nevada.
The Supreme Court is currently hearing a case – Christie vs NCAA – which could open up the floodgates to states that wish to offer sports betting.
Legal Pennsylvania sports betting is on the horizon
Pennsylvania has already set themselves up to take advantage should the legal climate become more favorable. Although Pennsylvania’s online gambling and brick and mortar expansion garnered a lot of the attention, the state also made sure to include Pennsylvania sports betting legislation should the federal law change. The language can be summed up in the following passage:
The Board shall, when federal law is enacted or repealed or a federal court decision is filed that permits a state to regulate sports wagering, publish a notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin certifying the enactment or repeal or the filing of the decision.
Although gambling changes can occur at a snail’s pace, progress in the area of sports betting could come sooner than some think. The Supreme Court heard arguments on Christie vs NCAA in December and is expected to make its decision by the summer. Bringing sports betting to Pennsylvania won’t be as easy as flipping a switch but Pennsylvania is set up to take advantage sooner than most states.
Most accounts of the proceedings said the arguments phase of Supreme Court case went well for New Jersey. With leagues apparently warming to the idea — some very quickly — the stars could soon align for sports bettors in certain states.
So although you won’t be able to legally bet on the game in Pennsylvania this year, your prospects for betting legally in the state the coming years have significantly increased compared to just a year ago.