A stroke of misfortune for the Chicago Bears in last Sunday’s NFL playoff game promises a weekend of good fortune in Philadelphia this weekend. Not only did their missed field goal attempt keep the Eagles’ season alive, it also provided a pivotal weekend fixture for the newly-opened Parx Casino sportsbook, which only got full sign-off from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) on Thursday.
Following the (controlled) deregulation of sports betting state-wide over the last eight months, Parx Casino is not the first to open a licensed sportsbook premises in Philadelphia. In fact, it is only the fourth in the state to join the fray – but its opening has created quite the media buzz, and it provides a good example of how certain states are applying a tiered approach to deregulation, after the Federal blanket-ban on sports betting was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court last summer.
Parx’s sportsbook is being powered by the UK group, Kambi, which demonstrates how US operators are sensibly drawing on the expertise and degree of specialisation offered by a mature sports betting market, such as the UK. Unlike the UK, mobile-device or online sports betting is not yet available in Pennsylvania, but they have already been officially approved by the PGCB and will likely be offered by this spring.
Despite the current unavailability of online and mobile wagering, Parx/Kambi provide a workaround of sorts through their app, Betslip Builder. Bets cannot be placed online but the app allows punters to view odds online and to fill out a scannable betting slip, which can be easily submitted at the many automated kiosks dotted around the Parx sportsbook. This has the advantage of reducing long queuing times – which can be critical to the successful submission of last-minute wagers right before kickoff, tip-off, puck drop etc.
The current Parx sportsbook is currently operating out of temporary premises, until their $10 million-costing nearby location is completed, which is scheduled for a May or June opening. This $10 million investment, in addition to the $10 million that Parx have already paid for their Pennsylvania gaming licence, shows their degree of confidence in the appetite for sports betting in the state. And they are also opening two new Kambi-powered downtown Philly sports betting locations in coming months. Obviously, no Parx figures are available yet, but last November’s first two weeks of wagering at Hollywood Casino (located in central Pennsylvania) generated $500,000 in revenue on $1.4 million in handle. And, Hollywood’s launch was over the weekend of massive, unseasonal blizzard.
Big sports betting developments aren’t only happening in Pennsylvania, or indeed currently just for football, with the broadcaster NBC now also delivering live-odds TV broadcasting for NBA fixtures, but no matter what the weather holds – or even whether the Eagles win or lose on Sunday – Parx are very likely to have a pretty good weekend.