Pennsylvania has always been one step ahead of others, even when gambling is in question. The first type of gambling that was legalized in 1959 was horse racing. Then came the state lottery in 1972, bingo in 1988, and casino in 2004 right after the creation of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
Today, gambling is seen as a way of boosting the economy, improving the state’s financial deficit, and providing more people with job opportunities. Pennsylvania is one of the first states to legalize almost every form of gambling — the only gambling activities that are still illegal in the Keystone State are betting on greyhound races and live dealer casino games.
Read our review to learn about the current legal situation regarding online casinos in Pennsylvania.
Gambling has been present in the Keystone State for quite some time. Pennsylvania’s residents have been able to partake in all sorts of gambling activities for more than a decade, and now, they have the opportunity to enjoy the offering of various online gambling platforms.
On October 26, 2017, Governor Tom Wolf signed the H 271 — a bill that made online gambling legal in the state of Pennsylvania. Here is what the bill introduced:
Additionally, this bill provided regulation for sports betting, both retail and online, in case it became legal at the federal level. Once the H 271 bill was approved by the Senate and introduced into the law, the state of Pennsylvania was given permission to legalize and regulate the above-mentioned activities.
The law states that real-money casino platforms can operate only in cooperation with existing land-based casinos. All the legal online casino sites are approved, vetted, and overseen by the PGCB (Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board).
In 2018, after the PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) had been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, Pennsylvania legalized sports betting.
Currently, there are three types of online gambling licenses the state of Pennsylvania issues:
At the moment of writing this article, there are ten online casinos that offer various gambling activities to PA players:
Each of these platforms holds a license to operate and has partnered up with a local brick-and-mortar casino. Every casino has a wide range of online slots and table and card games. Additionally, they offer enticing welcome offers to all new players who’d like to join.
Currently, the only form of casino games that isn’t available to PA players is the live dealer casino. However, with the state adapting its laws and regulations regularly, this type of gambling might soon be legalized.
Pennsylvania was the fourth state, and the largest one, to legalize online gambling. Online casinos were the first ones to have a crack at the gambling licenses. Afterward, the Keystone State introduced online sports betting into the law. Soon after, online poker became a legal gambling activity as well.
Currently, PA players have the opportunity to enjoy a vast selection of sports betting opportunities on top-notch online sportsbooks — FanDuel, DraftKings Sportsbook, BetRivers, FoxBet. Bettors can place bets on sports and sporting events such as the NLF, NBA, MLB, hockey, horse racing, golf, tennis, etc.
The last one to join the party was online poker. For now, the only licensed poker platform that operates in the state of Pennsylvania is PokerStars. However, another two poker websites are set to launch soon in PA — Party Poker and WSOP.com/888.
The objective of blackjack is simple — players need to get as close as possible to 21 without busting (going over) and have a higher hand total than the dealer. If you go over 21, you lose the game, and the same applies to the dealer.
Before you start playing, it is vital to understand what determines hand values. Each card has a specific value, depending on its rank. For instance, numbered cards (2–10) carry the same value as their rank, and there are 36 of them in the deck. On the other hand, face cards (jack, queen, and king) count as 10. Aces are flexible, as they can be valued as one or 11, whichever brings you closer to 21.
Your blackjack hand is the sum of these values. If you are lucky to be dealt 10 and 11 as your initial cards, you have a blackjack or natural. As a result, you win automatically and get paid 3:2. In case of winning with some other hand total, you’ll be paid even money.
Each player receives two face-up cards when joining an online blackjack table. Meanwhile, the dealer takes one face-up and one face-down card. After that, you must settle on one of the following moves:
Online blackjack offers several major advantages unmatched by any land-based casino in Pennsylvania. Let’s unpack them and see why it is worth your time.
As a globally popular game, it’s no wonder blackjack has hundreds of variations. Most of them stick to the same basic game rules, with small deviations, and these are the most widespread variants in Pennsylvania.
This blackjack variant typically uses two decks, but you can also stumble upon games that feature four or six decks. In American blackjack, the dealer peeks at their hidden card when the up card is a 10 or ace. However, in European blackjack, the dealer is not required to do so since they get one card. Meanwhile, the hole card is dealt after all the participants have acted.
In this variation, blackjack pays 3:2, and the dealer has to stand on soft 17. Players are allowed to split a pair only once and double down on hands with a total of nine, ten, or eleven. The game is unique in that you lose if the dealer has a natural and you have a total of 21 with other cards.
Pontoon is the British version of blackjack, sharing many aspects with the American variant. However, this game has several elements that make it a bit more interesting. Players are dealt one card and make their bets before receiving the other one. Then, the game follows the standard blackjack rules, except players use the term “twist” instead of “hit.” The best hand in Pontoon is having five cards that equal 21 or less, which automatically doubles your winnings.
Inspired by the famous gambling destination Atlantic City, this blackjack game follows the same basic rules. However, one distinguishable feature is that it uses eight decks, and late surrender is allowed, which means you can forfeit half of your original wager. The game pays 3:2, and the dealer can peek for blackjack and stand on soft 17. Additionally, you can split pairs up to three times and double down on either of the first two cards.
This game originally used one deck of cards, but nowadays, it employs four. The objective and card values follow the standard blackjack game, but in Vegas Strip, you can double down on any two cards and split to a maximum of four hands. Moreover, you can split 10-value cards, which is a rarity. As for the dealer’s play, they must stand on soft 17 and peek for blackjack. This variation also pays 3:2.
Although blackjack is a game of chance, you can follow the basic strategy to increase your winning chances and even reduce the house edge. Here’s how:
It is crucial to scout blackjack tables before you register and make a deposit. Different operators may have their own rules, shuffling procedures, numbers of decks, and maximum and minimum betting limits. Small nuances may greatly influence your potential profits, so always consider the following:
Before online casinos, there were land-based casinos — 12 of them, to be precise. They have all been active for quite some time and they offer traditional casino games but are always looking to improve their selection.
Below, we have mentioned some of the brick-and-mortar casino options you can opt for whenever you’re in the Keystone State:
Most of these land-based casinos already have their online counterparts, and more might come in the future.
Yes. As long as you stick to a state-approved casino, you have nothing to worry about. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, the main regulatory body overseeing this industry, regularly tests casino games to ensure they adhere to specified standards. Plus, players are protected by KYC guidelines and responsible gaming laws.
Yes, in 2017, the state of Pennsylvania introduced the legislation that made online gambling (online casinos and online poker) legal. In July 2019, the first online casino platforms went live so you can enjoy web-based blackjack as long as you are at least 21 years old.
Online poker was legalized along with online casinos in 2017. Currently, there are seven casinos that have poker licenses. Poker players have the opportunity to play different versions of online poker, claim bonuses, and participate in numerous online tournaments.
In order to participate in any form of gambling, you need to be older than 21 in the state of Pennsylvania.
At the moment, there is no law that prohibits offshore casinos from accepting players from Pennsylvania. However, you might encounter some difficulties if you want to play in an offshore casino. For example, American banks are legally obliged to block all payments players try to make in offshore casinos.
Pennsylvania is home to 12 land-based casinos that offer casino games, poker, horse racing, and sports betting. Additionally, players located in Pennsylvania can participate in the state lottery and bingo.