Pennsylvania Gambling Laws

Pennsylvania Gambling Laws

From being an almost gambling-free state, Pennsylvania developed a fast-growing gambling industry due to recent law changes. Read our article and learn more about the Pennsylvania gambling law and future prospects.

Pennsylvania Gambling Laws Guide

In the USA, gambling is regulated by federal and state laws. This is what makes the legal situation a bit complicated since every state has a set of rules of its own. This time, we are dealing with Pennsylvania, the state which grew from a gambling desert to a fast developing gaming destination.

For long, Pennsylvania lottery was the most widespread gambling form in the state since almost everything else was banned. However, with the gambling industry which exploded in the second half of the twentieth century, Pennsylvania started loosening up the legislative. The laws of Pennsylvania changed drastically over the past years and are now much more relaxed when it comes to gambling than ever. In 2004, state casinos were legalized, which allowed opening of casinos, some of which are now considered to be world class, like Mohegan Sun Casino and Cesar Entertainment. However, there are still some improvements left to make, especially regarding online gambling.

The law of Pennsylvania defines gambling through three key factors: consideration, the element of chance, and reward. Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) is the official body with the authority to oversee legal gambling, enforce the gaming law, and issue licenses.

  • Poker
  • Roulette
  • Casinos and other gambling houses
  • Pool selling and bookmaking
  • Drawing cards
  • Punch boards
  • Private wire for gambling information
  • Cockfighting
  • Bullet play
  • Sports betting
    • except for horse racing

Players should take these specifications seriously because the state of Pennsylvania has harsh penalties. For playing prohibited games, a first-degree misdemeanor is issued with up to $10,000 fine and possibly five years in jail. However, the state has a tradition of rather prosecuting the organizers of casino gaming than the players, who are often left out of the scrutiny of the authorities.

Allowed forms of gambling in Pennsylvania are:

  • Horse and harness racing betting (on- and off-track parimutuel and interstate simulcast)
  • State lottery
  • Tavern raffles
    • only if conducted in establishments with permission to sell liquor (except for casinos, grocery stores, venues hosting professional sporting events, and a number of other institutions)
  • Slot machines
    • not older than 25 years

Online gambling is not regulated in Pennsylvania, meaning that the laws didn’t precisely declare it illegal or legal. However, the state will probably legalize online gambling in the future since PGCB is in the process of approving 10 online casino licenses. Besides, there are also indications that the state intends to start its own online gaming industry.

Should you have any additional questions, it is advisable to consult a lawyer in order to stay informed about the most recent changes in the law.