Pennsylvania has a large number of casinos, though a lot of them are different than the casinos you would find in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Some casinos are an extension of a horse or dog racing track, while others exist as a casino and resort destination. With changes to the way casinos and gambling were able to function in the state being made in the middle of 2010, the casino and gaming atmosphere in Pennsylvania is growing and changing quickly.
Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack
Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course
The Meadows Racetrack & Casino
Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin
Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs
Mount Airy Casino Resort
Parx Casino/Philadelphia Park Racetrack
Presque Isle Downs Casino
The Rivers Casino
Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem
Valley Forge Casino Resort
Types of Casinos
In Pennsylvania, there are a few different types of casinos, some are full casinos, and some are run by Native American tribes, while others offer a resort experience that bases its theme on more attractions than the casino alone.
Full casinos are exactly what their name implies, a casino with every type of table game and slot imaginable. These casinos are often accompanied by a hotel and other amenities and labeled as a resort. As opposed to places like racetracks, full casinos center their business around the casino only, often offering many more slots and a wider variety of table games than dog or horse tracks. Standalone casinos refer to a casino that does not have all the amenities of a casino and resort, meaning they are usually lacking things like a hotel, spa, and shops.
Racinos are another name for dog or horse tracks which also offer some slots and table games. Since racinos concentrate on dog or horse racing more so than the casino aspect, you can expect to find a much less diverse offering of games than you would expect to find at a full casino. Nonetheless, games like Texas Hold’em poker, Craps and Blackjack can be found in abundance at many Pennsylvania racinos.
Native American Casinos
Some casinos in Pennsylvania, such as Mohegan Sun, are owned by Native Americans and operate on Native American reservations. With that being said, apart from the fact that these casinos are on reservation land they do not differ greatly from any other full casino.
History of Gambling in Pennsylvania
Before 2006 the casino presence in Pennsylvania was close to nil. While you could place wagers on horses and dogs at racetracks, slots, poker, blackjack, and the like were all illegal. This changed in 2006 when the PA state government determined that it would allow for the existence of six permanent casinos so long as they are located at preexisting racetracks. The state government of PA also decided that it would allow for the existence of 5 stand-alone casinos and 2 more “resort” casinos which were to be built as an attachment to preexisting hotels/resorts. It must be noted however, that at the time these licenses were granted approval by Pennsylvania’s state government, they only allowed for the existence of slot machines at the casinos.
In July of 2010, it was decided that the casinos of PA were now able to allow for the play of table games. This news was greeted with mixed attitudes, but allowed PA casinos the chance to offer a casino experience that you would otherwise have to travel to Atlantic City or Las Vegas for.
Since most casinos in Pennsylvania got their start as dog racing or horse racing tracks, they are scattered all around the state; some located in large metropolitan areas, while others are in isolated, secluded parts of the state. Since the inclusion of table games in 2010, the presence of casinos in major cities such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh has grown and continues to grow. Overall, the casino industry in PA is budding to say the least and has been growing steadily since the inclusion of table games.
Because Atlantic City and its many casino attractions are located within close proximity to some PA casinos, it goes without saying that Atlantic City is PA’s biggest competitor. With that being said however, the allowance of table games has made many of Pennsylvania’s casinos a viable alternative to travelling sometimes great distances to Atlantic City. Additionally, a lot of Pennsylvania’s casinos have been established within the last few years and are newer and more modern than a lot of Atlantic City’s casinos, many of which have been around for 3 or more decades.
Casino online play is currently nearing regulation. Though the process is very slow and tedious, many expect online casino play to be legal sooner than later, especially with neighboring, and competing, New Jersey already having online play in effect.
General Pennsylvania Casino Rules
In Pennsylvania, you must be 21 years of age to gamble at casinos
In Pennsylvania, you must also be 21 years of age to drink alcohol at casinos
As of now, sports betting is not permitted in Pennsylvania casinos