HARRISBURG — Pennsylvanians will be able to bet on the Super Bowl, but they may have to travel to do it.
While Pennsylvania’s gaming update allows casinos to take sports wagers online, no one has gotten the OK from state regulators to do so, said Doug Harbach, a Gaming Control Board spokesman.
“There will not be online sports wagering options available by the Super Bowl," he said.
There are only three areas of the state — Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Harrisburg — where legal bets will be accepted by the time of the Feb. 3 clash between the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots.
New England stood as 2 1/2-point favorites, as of Tuesday afternoon, according to odds posted at the Hollywood Casino.
The Hollywood Casino at Penn National, 15 miles from Harrisburg, was the first in the state to offer legal sports betting. Since then, the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh and two Philadelphia casinos, Parx and SugarHouse, have begun offering sportsbooks.
In addition to its main casino, Parx takes sports bets at an off-track betting parlor, the Turf Club, in South Philadelphia.
Tuesday, the Gaming Control Board also began testing the sports betting operation at Harrah’s casino in Chester, outside Philadelphia, said Douglas Harbach, a Gaming Control Board spokesman.
“If all goes well, they would open for regular hours on Thursday and the number of operational sportsbooks would stand at six,” Harbach said.
The state’s casinos took in $16.17 million in sports wagers in December, the gaming control board announced last week. After paying out winnings to players, those wagers translated into $2 million in revenue for the casinos and the state collected $722,000 in tax from it, according to the Gaming Control Board.
That’s far less than the betting seen in neighboring states, West Virginia and New Jersey, which have already rolled out online sports betting.
There were $42 million in sports wagers in West Virginia in December and $319 million bet on sports in New Jersey in the month, according to an analysis by Legal Sports Report, a gambling industry trade website.
Industry analysts are projecting that almost 1 out of every three dollars bet on the Super Bowl will be placed in New Jersey.
“We're setting the line at a $100 million in legal bets in New Jersey and $325 million in total bets placed on the game at legal sportsbooks nationwide,” said Dustin Gouker, lead sports betting analyst for PlayNJ.com.
Harbach said there was no “overt” decision to direct casinos to get their on-site sports book operating before expanding online.
“With the greater complexities of online gambling compared to setting up a bricks and mortar sportsbook, the latter just came logically,” he said.
John Finnerty reports from the Harrisburg Bureau for The Meadville Tribune and other Pennsylvania newspapers owned by CNHI. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @cnhipa.