In the United States, the idea behind legalized and regulated real money online casinos is often one that is met with a lot of skepticism and doubt. After all, the number of states currently offering legalized online gambling is fewer than the fingers that exist on two hands. Having said this, you might find it downright shocking that the historically conservative state of Pennsylvania is one of the four total US states that currently legally allow for online gambling to take place.
Though states like Nevada and New Jersey made the transition into a legal online gambling landscape seamlessly, the story behind Pennsylvania becoming the 4th state to legalize gambling is a bit different.
To provide some perspective as to why Pennsylvania is considered to be a pioneer in the legalized online casino realm, you must first understand that casinos were only legalized in 2004. During that year, a bill was passed by the name of the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act. Though one of the seemingly obvious purposes of the bill was to bolster the beleaguered horseracing industry in the state, another, perhaps more important, purpose of the bill was to transform the gambling landscape in the state. The passage of the aforementioned Act meant that 14 brick and mortar facilities would be able to lay claim to real money slot machines come 2006. By virtue of the Act, the facilities were to be broken down in such a way that favored horse tracks. Of the 14 brick and mortar slot machine sites, it was mandated that 7 of them be horse tracks, 5 be standalone casinos, and the final 2 were to be resort casinos the likes of which dot the Las Vegas Strip.
In the following years, the scope of gambling was expanded bit by bit, until 2010 saw the legalization of table games. By the time the first decade of the 21st century was complete, Pennsylvania had gone from a state with next to no gambling to becoming a state that was rivaling the historic casinos in Atlantic City when it came to annual revenues. The sheer amount of money being made by the casinos in the state and, by extension, the state itself via taxes was difficult to ignore. As revenues increased, so too did the tax dollars being brought into the coffers. As the budgetary situation in Pennsylvania grew bleaker with each passing year, the idea for increased gambling seemed like a quick, proven way to the scope of casino (and online casino) gambling expanded.
If we flash forward to 2014, Tom Wolf was elected governor and the now strong push to legalize and regulate online gambling was severely threatened. It quickly became no secret that Wolf seemed to be more likely to increase taxes than he was to legalize gambling, and the belief that online casinos would have to wait until at least 2018 caught hold. Of course, this is when the aforementioned financial problems of the state come back into play.
In attempting to create a budget that would help Pennsylvania decrease its overall deficit, Republicans and Democrats were at a stand-still. Republicans, who laid claim to a majority of the legislature, did not want to raise taxes. Democrats, including the governor, on the other hand, were not willing to compromise as they saw no other way to raise more money for the state. After going back and forth for what seemed like a decade, the governor and his allies and the Republicans came to an agreement–legalized online gambling was the best way to quickly increase state revenues. It was at this point that Pennsylvania joined elite, exclusive company in the US, as the 4th state to legalize online play of slots, table games, and so much more.
As is the case with New Jersey, any person wishing to gamble online in Pennsylvania will need to be at least 21 years of age. Perhaps the biggest rule regarding online gambling in Pennsylvania has to do with where, exactly, you do your gambling. The internet is looked at as an entity that is not governed by state boundaries, but the reality of the matter is that your location will be tracked when you attempt to gamble at Pennsylvania online casinos. To make a long story short, if you are so much as a few feet outside of the state, the state’s online casinos will be rendered inaccessible.
How Do I Get Started?
Getting started isn’t much of an issue if you already know which site you want to join. Your next step should be to open a new gambling account, make the first deposit and validate your account by submitting a scanned photo ID. Once that final step is out of the way, you should be able to start playing real money games or placing wagers.
How Do I Get My Money if I Win?
The funds tied to your on-site account are always at your disposal, so if you need a payout all you need to do is open the cashier menu and place the appropriate request, which will usually take about 2 days to process. Most sites prefer to use wire transfers for cash outs, so, all in all, you’ll probably have to wait about two weeks before you receive your winnings.
What is the minimum age to gamble online in Pennsylvania?
You have to be at least 18 years old in order to open a real money online gambling account. Please note that this isn’t affected by the Pennsylvania legal casino age, which is set to 21.
How do I open an account?
All you need to do is visit the site in question and fill out a simple form by providing the necessary personal information. Keep in mind that you’ll have to confirm your identity before you’ll be allowed to engage in real money gambling.
Where can I open my account from?
Pennsylvania residents are free to open an account from anywhere in the United States.
From where can I access Pennsylvania online gambling sites?
You can access most of the offshore sites from anywhere in the US. Some operators even allow logging in from abroad. Just keep in mind that not every US state is iGaming friendly: both Washington and Utah have very strict anti-online gambling regulations.
Where can I familiarize myself with the official regulations over gambling in Pennsylvania?
Your first step should definitely be to check out Section 5512 of Pennsylvania Statutes.
How do I deposit to my online gambling account?
Most sites will encourage you to deposit via a standard Visa/MasterCard credit card payment. Other options are available with very few sites.
How do I withdraw my winnings?
Most Pennsylvania-facing sites allow you to cash out via wire transfer or via check by mail.
Is my money safe?
Your money will be safe if you stick to trustworthy sites such as the ones listed here. There are many scammers that host faux Pennsylvania-friendly iGaming sites, so you should be very careful when it comes to transferring your money to any sites that you aren’t well familiar with.
What body regulates gambling in Pennsylvania?
Legal gambling in Pennsylvania is handled by Pennsylvania Horse & Harness Racing Commissions and Pennsylvania Lottery.