Rivers Casino was the first to announce the big news on their Twitter account, a full day before the official first bet.
The countdown is here to introduce the NEW Rivers Sportsbook! Join us Thursday at 2pm for the introductory period of the FIRST Sportsbook in western PA! Our introductory period has limited hours, is open to the public! Visit https://t.co/tTjbjDHkpq for details! pic.twitter.com/Z1ZwbXoAEV
— Rivers Casino (@WinBigRivers) December 12, 2018
SugarHouse, in contrast, waited until just before opening their doors before issuing its first statement on the highly anticipated development.
Ready to get in the game? Live #sportsbetting is now here! Be among the first to place your #bets during our test period today and tomorrow from 2PM – MIDNIGHT.
Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-Gambler. pic.twitter.com/LHItHxYGn8
— SugarHouse Casino (@WinAtSugarHouse) December 13, 2018
Considering both properties are owned by Rush Street Interactive, it’s not a surprise they both opened their betting windows on the same day. The news also marks the entry of a sportsbook in two of Pennsylvania’s most prominent cities: Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
It’s important to note that Pennsylvania regulations require an initial two-day test period for all new sportsbooks. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PCGB) will likely give the final approval on Saturday morning, provided everything goes smoothly.
SugarHouse Casino adds a second state to its sports betting operations with its launch into the Philadelphia sports betting scene. The ceremonial first bet included six frequent customers stepping up to a window inside the temporary sportsbook at 2 p.m. Dec. 13.
Cheryl Duhon, general manager of Sugarhouse, shared in the excitement to the Inquirer.
“This city is very special and unique when it comes to sports and the fandom surrounding sports in this town. We’re honored to be the first in Philly to get this launched. Everyone has been chomping at the bit to get this going.”
Speaking of fandom, the Philadelphia Eagles are flying this weekend to the West Coast for their matchup with the Los Angeles Rams.
Even with the Eagles away, the sportsbook is likely to be the place-to-be for Sunday’s NFL game. However, look for things to be hopping for the first home game Dec. 23 against the Houston Texans.
Of course, SugarHouse is already operating in neighboring New Jersey. There are estimates that nearly 5 percent of wagers on PlaySugarHouse in New Jersey come from Pennsylvanians crossing the state border to place their bets. Now, Philadelphia sports bettors can stay closer to home.
Rivers Casino Sportsbook
On the other side of the state, in Pittsburgh Steelers‘ territory, Rivers Casino also accepted its first wagers at 2 p.m. to officially kick off Pittsburgh sports betting. Like SugarHouse, the first bets also came by way of a few local customers. Although, state legislators and Rivers officials took part in an official ribbon cutting.
Rivers gets to celebrate its first weekend in operation with their team playing at home. The Steelers face a fierce battle against the New England Patriots. Both teams will be playing to secure or improve their playoff position.
Bill Keena, general manager of Rivers Casino, provided a sneak peek to Trib Live of what the sportsbook will look like on game day.
“In this town, it’s going to be different because of the fact that when the Steelers win, you can just imagine the excitement that happens here on the gaming floor. When they score a touchdown, everybody yells and cheers. Take that 10 times in this sportsbook here.”
What about mobile sports betting?
Currently, regulators are focused on launching retail operations before adding online sports betting to the mix. The $10 million sports betting license fee includes an online sports betting license as well.
SugarHouse knows full well the power of mobile sports betting, where 68 percent of the New Jersey sports betting revenue in November came from online wagers.
No doubt, SugarHouse is ready to launch its online app as soon as it gets the approval to do so. Duhon would like to see online sports betting get off the ground sometime in the first quarter of the new year.
“The regulators want to let the dust clear with the land-based piece before starting online sports betting sometime next year,” said Duhon.
That means getting the additional four casinos still in line to launch their sportsbooks. Those casinos are:
Harrah’s Philadelphia and Parx Casino already received approval by the PGCB. On the other hand, Valley Forge and Presque Isle Downs are still waiting for their turn in front of the PGCB.
Whether land-based or online, Pennsylvania sports betting is gearing up for a very busy 2019.