SIDEBAR Fall 2018 - 24

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SIDEBAR FEATURE

YOU CAN BET ON IT

THE FUTURE OF LEGALIZED
SPORTS GAMBLING IN
PENNSYLVANIA
By Michael J. Lyon, Esq.

W

hen the Supreme Court
struck down the Professional
and Amateur Sports
Protection Act (PASPA) in Murphy v.
NCAA, et al. in May of this year, a day
that many sports fans had dreamed of
became reality. With PASPA nullified,
legalized sports betting had finally become
a possibility outside of Nevada.
Responding quickly to Murphy, on
June 5, 2018, Delaware became the first
state other than Nevada to begin taking
bets on single games in its three casinos.
New Jersey followed days later on June
14, when Monmouth Park in Oceanport
and the Borgata in Atlantic City began
taking wagers.
Gambling in both states, and
particularly in New Jersey, has since
spread like wildfire. Wagers are now
being taken in the majority of Atlantic
City casinos, as well as at a new sports
book at the Meadowlands in East
Rutherford. In addition, many casinos
are now offering mobile betting, with
users able to place bets through apps on
their phones or websites. The popularity
of wagering in both Delaware and New
Jersey has provided a notable boost to tax
revenues in each state, and betting is only

24 SIDEBAR

forecasted to become more popular over
the next several years.
All the attention being paid to the
legalization of sports gambling in New
Jersey and Delaware has left many fans
in Pennsylvania wondering when it will
come to the Keystone State. As of press
time, while it is, technically, legal in
Pennsylvania, regulated sports betting has
not yet begun. While the exact date that
betting will begin in Pennsylvania is still
very much unknown, potential bettors
should rest assured that it should begin
very soon.
In October of last year, Governor
Wolf signed into law a massive expansion
of gambling in Pennsylvania. That
legislation allowed sports gambling to
be legalized if the existing federal ban in
PASPA was first repealed, which thereafter
occurred when the Supreme Court
nullified PASPA in Murphy.
The gaming law restricted the
possibility of hosting sports gambling
to Pennsylvania's twelve casinos, any of
whom could apply for a "sports wagering
certificate" with Pennsylvania's Gaming
Control Board (GCB). Holders of a
sports wagering certificate would be

permitted to take in-person wagers in
a designated sports book or area within
the casino. Online wagering was also
legitimized by the statute, and certificate
holders would be permitted to take
wagers through a mobile app or Internet
site.
The law provided a 120-day window
for the GCB to accept applications for
sports wagering certificates, which it
began to do on May 31, 2018. Given
how popular legalized betting was
thought to become, and the national
attention paid to Murphy, it was thought
that applications would come quickly.
Many surmised that sports wagering
would be operational in Pennsylvania
long before the start of the NFL season in
early September.
But the fees to be paid by potential
applicants for sports wagering certificates
likely caused (and may still be causing)
significant hesitation. The gaming
expansion statute required any sports
wagering certificate applicant to pay a $10
million initial fee to the GCB following
approval of the application. It further
requires a renewal fee of $250,000 to
be paid to the GCB every five years
thereafter. Those entry fees dwarf the


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