Pennsylvania is a state in the north-east region of the United States of America. It also happens to be at the forefront of legalizing land-based and online gambling within the US and is the second state (after Nevada) to fully accomplish this. Because of this, players over the age of 21 are free to play at locally licensed and regulated brick-and-mortar casinos, as well as online. This is a great step forward for the state – many other states have taken note of their example and are expected to follow in their footsteps soon. So, let’s dive right in and find out more…
Pennsylvania has a long history when it comes to gambling. In 1971, the state lottery was established in Act 91 as a government-run entity with the intention to decrease illegal gambling activities. This laid the groundwork to further legalize gambling, but many decades would pass before any changes were introduced. In the 1980s, several officials pushed for the legalization of casinos in the Pocono Mountains Resort Area and, in the 1990s, riverboat gambling became a huge topic. Both attempts ultimately failed at the time.
It took until 2004 – this was when Pennsylvanian legislators finally passed Act 71 that is also known as the Pennsylvania Racehorse Development and Gaming Act. This should legalize horse racing and casinos within the state and, as a result, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board was established. It turned out to be a huge success and provided much-needed tax relief to the area. Already during the first year of operations, several casino operators reported more than one billion dollars in revenue, and many new jobs were created. In 2017, the bill was expanded and allowed 10 more “mini-casinos” in locations such as truck stops, airports, as well as online portals. However, only applicants with a land-based casino presence were considered for an online casino license at first. Now, famous online names like PokerStars and Unibet also found their way to Pennsylvania.
With the rise of online gambling across the globe, many players from Pennsylvania started exploring foreign-based online casinos on the gray market – online gambling was not regulated in the state until 2017. This raised concerns amongst politicians because it had a negative effect on the local economy. Furthermore, there was a high risk of money laundering occurring and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) was unable to protect local gamblers as international online casinos were not under their jurisdiction.
In order to combat the quickly growing black market and all dangers that are associated with it, online gambling was finally legalized to gain back control. As a result, the main focus of the gambling authority in Pennsylvania is on player protection, fair gaming, and the prevention of money laundering. Systems were created to protect problem gamblers, such as the possibility of self-exclusion and a centralized database that is shared amongst all land-based and online casinos.
All official online casinos in Pennsylvania are licensed and under the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Gambling activities are closely monitored in order to ensure a fair and safe environment for players online. This includes a mandatory KYC (Know Your Customer) check to prevent known problem gamblers and minors from accessing online casinos. Furthermore, there is an active dispute resolution in place that can be found on the website of the PGBC. All random number generators (RNGs) are tested and the exact RTP (Return to Player) values can be looked up online. Casino sites are secured by modern SSL encryption and players can choose to activate two-factor authentication on many platforms.