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Why Sports Betting And Poker Are A Match Made In PA Casino Heaven


Poker and sports betting make perfect partners. Therefore, the idea that legal sports betting will somehow cut into the number of poker players coming to PA casinos is patently false.

In fact, the opposite is likely true. Offering poker players the chance to bet on sports while they play may just be one of the best ways to get them to come to the casino and play.

It’s the passive nature of sports betting as an activity that makes it such a perfect partner for poker. Gamblers must actively bet on a game to get in on the action. However, the outcome of that bet plays out as they watch. In the meantime, one can easily sit down and play poker at the same time. Many already do.

There isn’t a poker room in the country without dozens of TVs. Poker players can often be found watching sports action between hands.

There’s always a game on

Think about the last time you played inside a PA poker room. It’s a good bet that if there wasn’t a live sports event on the TVs, there was a replay on.

Betting on a game and playing poker while they watch has long been a pastime for visitors to Las Vegas, Nevada. In fact, many Sin City poker rooms are built right outside the casino’s sportsbook. Some even offer betting windows inside.

PA casinos don’t veer far from the successful Las Vegas model too often. Therefore, it’s another good bet most PA casinos will build out sportsbooks with the same connections to poker that players find in Vegas.

Both PA online poker and sports betting are on the way in PA. PA online casinos too. The popular activity among gamblers of betting on a game and playing poker while they watch could soon become a Pennsylvania thing. This will take off both at PA online poker rooms from the privacy of people’s homes and at PA casinos.

PA casinos with both feet in the poker business and plans to launch sports betting are well aware of this. In fact, many are banking on the connection between poker and sports betting already.

Parx sports betting and poker

Parx Casino owns and operates the highest-grossing poker room in the state. Its sports betting plan includes launching a brand new sportsbook inside the casino. It will be just steps away from the new 48-table Parx Poker Room that moved inside the main casino building this past January.

Parx is also planning the launch of an online and mobile sports betting app. At first, the app will only be available for use inside the casino. Parx is undoubtedly expecting a large portion of the action on the app to come from live in-game betting inside the poker room before it expands out statewide.

Mount Airy Resort Casino and The Stars Group

With just a small nine-table room, Mount Airy Resort Casino in the Poconos has never gone all-in on poker. However, that’s about to change.

The Stars Group announced in August it would be launching online casino, online poker, and mobile sports betting products in partnership with Mount Airy.

The Stars Group owns PokerStars, the world’s leading online poker site. It’s now promising to offer an all-inclusive online gambling experience to players in PA.

That means seamless access to its PokerStars online poker and online casino products, and its BetStars sports betting vertical. It also means Mount Airy is poised to take advantage of the connection between poker, sports betting, and casinos in a big way online.

Whether it means Mount Airy is gearing up to make a bigger commitment to live poker remains unclear. However, its online poker, casino, and sports betting products should create opportunities to draw customers into the casino. Therefore, it’s another good bet a PokerStars-branded poker room that can further take advantage of the connection is something owners the DeNaples family will be looking in to.

Regardless, it looks like gamblers will have plenty of options for getting involved in both activities. Plus, there are likely other PA casinos at least thinking about following the Parx and Mount Airy lead.

The rest of the PA players

A look around the rest of the PA casino industry shows several properties are also poised to take advantage of the deep connection between poker and sports betting.

Both college and professional sports are extremely popular in Philadelphia. Right now, SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood is the only casino operating within city limits.

It’s already home to the 28-table Poker Night in America Poker Room and there’s little doubt it will want to build a sportsbook inside the casino. A sports betting operation should flourish taking advantage of the 24 hours a day at action inside the poker room and the city’s love of sports.

If any city loves its pro sports teams more than Philadelphia, it’s Pittsburgh.

Rivers Casino has poker and sports in its DNA

Its owners had to have built Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh with sports in mind. It is just a one-minute walk from Heinz Field, home of the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers.

Of course, Rivers Casino has a 30-table poker room. It will be packed on any given Sunday after it opens a sportsbook. Allowing poker players to bet on the Steelers and watch the game while they play cards will be good for business.

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ PNC Park is also just a few minutes away along the North Shore of the Allegheny River. Plus, Rivers is only a 15-minute drive away from PPG Paints Arena where the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins play.

Rivers already depends on foot traffic from games at all three venues. A sportsbook inside the casino will only enhance that.

Whether its poker, casino games, or sports betting, casino are well aware that all three appeal to the same demographic.

Particularly in PA, casinos also understand the deep connection between all of these things. Therefore, when legal sports betting finally launches in the state, PA casinos will be selling the idea that poker players can bet on sports while they play and sports bettors can play poker while they watch the game. It’ll be a great way to get gamblers in the door, and business for both should be booming as a result.


Martin Derbyshire has more than ten years of experience reporting on the poker, online gambling, and land-based casino industries for a variety of publications including Bluff Magazine, PokerNews, and PokerListings. He has traveled extensively, attending tournaments and interviewing major players in the gambling world.