West Virginia’s sports betting market will go live on September 1, bringing the number of legal wagering US states to five.
On Friday, Penn National Gaming (PNG) announced that its Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races expects to launch sports betting on September 1. The new sportsbook will be powered by the US division of UK bookmaker William Hill.
The sports betting regulations that West Virginia approved earlier this year also allow for online and mobile wagering, but PNG’s announcement made no mention of any online or mobile plans, focusing instead on the number of big-screen televisions that it’s installing in the new sportsbook, which will be situated near the Hollywood venue’s Skybox Sports Bar.
Last month, PNG CEO Timothy Wilmott said his company wouldn’t be making any “huge investments” in sports betting, touting the product as more of another way to coax customers to visit its gaming venues rather than as a significant standalone revenue stream.
On Thursday, PNG announced that its five Mississippi casinos would begin launching sports betting operations this month, with two – Hollywood Casino Gulf Coast and Boomtown Biloxi – launching today (17), while its three other properties will follow suit on August 24. Unlike West Virginia, Mississippi is allowing wagering only on casino property. PNG hasn’t confirmed anything, but it’s assumed William Hill will also power these operations.
Friday also saw PNG become the first casino operator to apply for a sports betting license in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) announced via its official Twitter feed that the petition was filed by PNG’s Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing subsidiary, which operates the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.
PNG’s Pennsylvania application followed just two days after the PGCB issued its final sports betting regulations, which contained little in the way of major alterations from the temporary regs published earlier this summer. However, the PGCB has suggested the state’s sports betting market isn’t likely to launch until October.
PNG’s application will likely trigger a wave of similar petitions from the state’s other 12 casinos, despite ongoing concerns that the state’s absurdly high 36% tax on sports betting revenue will fulfill Wilmott’s prediction that wagering will be a non-factor in terms of direct revenue.
Like West Virginia, Pennsylvania will permit online and mobile wagering, and PNG has applied to offer online slots, table games and poker once the PGCB fires the online starting gun. PNG already has an online presence via its free-play Hollywoodcasino.com site.