Pennsylvania Sports Betting Thriving, but Still Far Behind New Jersey


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The state of Pennsylvania still has a way to go to catch their neighbor New Jersey, which is the country’s second-largest sports wagering market after Nevada. However, the keystone state’s legal sports books are definitely thriving this spring.

During the month of March, a period synonymous with heavy sports betting on college basketball, Sports Betting NJ was massive, as the state’s legal online and retail sports books accepted $372.5 million in bets, generating $31.7 million in revenue.

“I think that generally Chris Christie was out front on this, so they had the most time to prepare for it,” said Illinois House Revenue and Finance Committee Chairman Mike Zalewski, who’s spearheading the initiative to get sports gaming legalized in the Land of Lincoln.

“New Jersey has done the best job so far, but each state is its own unique territory, and each state has to do what’s best for it. So I don’t necessarily prejudge what another state has done either.”

As for Pennsylvania, government records indicate that they collected $44.5 million in March bets, which is good for the best monthly haul in any state other than New Jersey or Nevada.

“The legal sports betting market in Pennsylvania has seemingly limitless potential, and March was a significant step forward,” said Play sports wagering expert analyst Jessica Welman.

“The FanDuel Sportsbook at Valley Forge Casino, and the new sports book at the Valley Forge Turf Club, were welcome additions to the market. And those openings show operators are bullish on Pennsylvania.”

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The state, very well known for having extremely zealous sports fans, still has not launched legalized online sports betting, but that could arrive by the summer, and once it does, expect things to really ramp up.

“The growth of Pennsylvania’s market is stunted without online sports betting,” says another analyst at Play Pennsylvania, Dustin Gouker.

“Online bets account for about 80 percent of New Jersey’s handle. When the time comes that online bets are legalized and regulated in Pennsylvania, then the industry will be poised to challenge larger markets for supremacy.”

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

Banks, a former writer for NBC and Chicago, also contributes to Chicago NowFollow him on Twitter and Instagram. The content of his cat’s Instagram account is unquestionably superior to his.

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