Pennsylvania’s long-delayed Live! Hotel & Casino Philadelphia, just a few hundred feet from Citizens Bank Park, home to the Phillies of the MLB, is over a year away from opening its doors.
However, that won’t stop the upcoming Philadelphia casino from soon accepting online sports bets.
Live! Hotel & Casino Philadelphia is operated by Stadium Casino LLC, a joint venture between Cordish Group of Baltimore and Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment Inc. On Oct. 30, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board granted a certificate to Stadium Casino LLC to conduct sports betting, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The sports betting certificate was granted to Stadium Casino after Cordish argued that the 2017 state law permitting sports betting did not forbid a casino from debuting their online sportsbook before its brick-and-mortar gambling hall is operating.
Members of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board stated that Live! Casino Philadelphia must be operating a retail sportsbook before it launches their online betting platform, an outline set by 10 other casinos that have been approved for sports betting.
Cordish told the gaming board on Wednesday that they are in the final stages of negotiating a deal with an operator for a sportsbook. This likely means that within the next several months, Philadelphia sports bettors can place wagers at Live! Casino’s online and land-based sportsbooks, even before the construction of the casino is finished.
Live! Casino will mark the second gambling hall in The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, preceded by Rivers Casino. Stadium is working rapidly to open their Philadelphia casino by the end of 2020.
Cordish Gaming Group sought approval to expand its sports betting to Live! Casino Pittsburgh, set to break ground in just a few weeks in the Westmoreland Mall. Live! Pittsburgh will mark the state’s fifth satellite, or mini, casino.
The gaming board requires that Cordish pay an additional licensing fee of $10 million to operate a sportsbook out of their Pittsburgh satellite casino. Cordish Group representatives said they assumed their $40.1 million bid for the mini-casino license, filed last year, included the sports betting license.
Cordish changed its mind on opening the sportsbook because it wouldn’t be economically justifiable. However, three elected Westmoreland County officials — State Rep. George Dunbar, Hempfield Township Supervisor Rob Ritson and State Sen. Kim Ward — are pulling for the Pittsburgh sportsbook.
The three officials told the state gaming board that the sportsbook would add an important dimension to the casino, giving the area a large economic boost. Ward and Dunbar argued that the 2017 state law was approved before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized sports betting, and that it was vague about whether sports betting licenses would also extend to mini casinos.
The gaming board will likely make a decision during its Nov. 20 meeting on whether Cordish can launch a Pittsburgh sportsbook without paying an additional $10 million.