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Hollywood Casino approved for sports betting

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Hollywood Casino approved for sports betting

Hollywood Casino in Grantville, Dauphin County, is likely just a few weeks away from offering sports betting at its site after Penn National Gaming was awarded a sports betting license on Wednesday.

Hollywood Casino was one of two Pennsylvania casinos approved by the state at a permit hearing Wednesday. Philadelphia-based Parx Casino was also awarded a license.

Pennsylvania would be the sixth state to offer legal sports betting.

The casinos, however, have other requirements to meet that could take until November to open a sports book. That timeframe would miss baseball's World Series, but it could mean capturing the last weeks of fall's college football and NFL seasons and practically all of the hockey, college basketball and NBA seasons.

Penn National Gaming, which already operates sports betting at casinos in two other states, applied for the Hollywood Casino and racetrack it owns near Exit 80 off Interstate 81. Penn National officials would say only that it plans to open a sports book in the next "few months."

The owners of Parx Casino plan to offer sports betting through the suburban Philadelphia casino and horse-racing track and at an off-track betting parlor in Philadelphia called the South Philadelphia Turf Club. Both are controlled by London-based businessman Watche Manoukian.

Parx Casino could begin offering sports betting in November on banks of TV screens showing a range of different sports.

"People can watch pretty much any game that's on in the country," John Dixon, the chief technology officer of Parx Casino, told the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board during a hearing on the application Wednesday.

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Berks County-based Penn National agreed to pay a $10 million fee to apply for the sports gambling license, along with a 36 percent tax rate on revenues. The license authorizes the gaming company to take all manners of bets on professional sporting events, including the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL, as well as collegiate athletics.

Penn National was the first to apply for a license in Pennsylvania. Anticipating approval, the company already began development on a state-of-the-art sports betting lounge inside Hollywood Casino and partnered with one of the world’s largest commercial bookmakers, according to Charles Thompson for PennLive.

Betting online or on mobile devices could take until next year to start up. Users must be 21 of age and inside Pennsylvania.

Owners of Pennsylvania's 12 casinos can pay a $10 million fee to operate sports betting. Three other casino owners are seeking sports-betting licenses, while several other casinos could open in the coming year or two.

The U.S. Supreme Court in May cleared the way for states to legalize sports betting. Since then, sports books have opened in Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi and West Virginia, joining the grandfathered Nevada, where sports betting had been legal for decades.

It's not clear how much Pennsylvania can expect from its 34 percent state tax on sports betting. Local governments collect another 2 percent tax.

Mississippi's 8 percent state tax amounted to $52,000 in August on the $645,000 lost by gamblers on $7.7 million in bets. In 2 1/2 months of sports betting in New Jersey, the state's 8.5 percent tax netted $1.1 million from the $16.5 million lost by gamblers on $153 million in bets.

Pennsylvania is already set to become the fourth state to allow online casino gambling, after awarding licenses to seven casinos in recent weeks.

Pennsylvania's casinos already rake in more gross revenues than any other state's casinos except Nevada's, American Gaming Association figures show, while Pennsylvania is the No. 1 state in tax revenue from the casino industry, at $1.4 billion in the 2016-17 fiscal year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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