State gambling oversight agency sees revenue potential in online sports bets

    Sports betting was okayed by a US Supreme Court ruling last year. (PrayitnoPhotography/Flickr)

    Allowing Pennsylvanians to place sports bets online could mean increased revenue for the state, a Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board official told lawmakers Wednesday.

    “The information we’re receiving is that the online component is popular and can exceed the amount of revenue obtained from a retail side,” Executive Director Kevin O’Toole said during a House Appropriations Committee budget hearing.

    Sports gambling brought in $11.2 million last year, according to numbers from the state Department of Revenue. Revenue is projected to rise over the coming years to just under $50 million for the 2022-23 fiscal year.

    Online sports betting is covered by casinos’ existing gaming licenses, but the board is still hammering out details with state bet takers.

    At the moment, O’Toole said the plan would allow Pennsylvanians to place bets and cash out online without going to one of the state’s 12 casinos in person. Most of the locations are concentrated in the eastern and western parts of the state.

    Limiting bets on the outcome of an Eagles or Pirates game to a casino itself has been a key issue for many rural legislators, like Rep. Jim Struzzi, R-Indiana.

    “We don’t have a casino nearby at all,” he said.

    Sports gambling became legal in Pennsylvania and across the country last summer following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

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