Harrah’s Philadelphia has become the third casino applicant for a sports betting license in the state of Pennsylvania. It joins Parx Casino and Penn National and will pay a $10m licensing fee on top of a 36 per cent sports wagering tax rate when it becomes operational. Scientific Games will provide the platform for the sportsbook.

So far, Pennsylvania has struggled to attract potential suitors for sports betting, thanks largely to the above mentioned licensing fee and a tax rate that many view as prohibitively high. This latest application from Harrah’s was made just in time to be reviewed by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board at its next meeting on October 3 and could enable the casino to begin taking wagers before the end of the year.

In its petition to the board, the company noted: “Harrah’s Philadelphia clearly has the business ability and experience to operate and maintain a successful sports wagering operation. Harrah’s Philadelphia’s slot operation has exceeded expectations and Harrah’s Philadelphia has an excellent reputation for meeting or exceeding regulatory expectations.

“Additionally, Harrah’s Philadelphia’s principals and affiliates currently conduct sports wagering operations in Nevada, Mississippi and New Jersey, and such affiliates are an available resource to Harrah’s Philadelphia as Harrah’s Philadelphia moves to establish its sports wagering operation.”

SBC Americas analysis

With only three out of 13 casinos having thrown their hat into the ring, the glacial take-up of sports betting license applications is hardly the outcome that might have been anticipated when Governor Tom Wolf signed Bill H 271 into law last October. It appears that, for the foreseeable future, sports wagering in the Keystone State will be the sole preserve of those operators who have the deepest pockets and the ability to work to the tightest profit margins.