The first Sunday of the NFL season is always like Christmas Day in Philadelphia, but this year the giddiness will climb to a whole new level with the advent of legal online sports betting in Pennsylvania.
SugarHouse, Parx, Bet Rivers and FanDuel are now all up and running online and they will be joined by Harrah’s Philadelphia next month. All of the online books are anticipating a monumental boom period once the NFL and college football seasons begin.
“It’s always been about that magical date of getting things up and running before football season, so we expect to launch online sometime in August,” said Harrah’s Philadelphia Senior Vice President & General Manager Chris Albrecht in an exclusive 1-on-1 with MetroBet last week at Philadelphia Business Journal’s Business of Sports Conference last Thursday at SugarHouse Casino. “Everything’s been going great so far [with the brick and mortar sportsbook], we opened earlier this year and we’re really excited to get into our first football season to really see what the sportsbook can become for us.”
Albrecht told MetroBet that Harrah’s, which is operated by Caesars Entertainment, will be rolling out a boatload of new promotions centered around the start of the NFL season.
“We’re about to enter the biggest time of our year,” Albrecht told MetroBet. “We’re in ‘idea mode’ right now so we’ll be looking to launch those promotions within the next month or so. We’ll leverage other assets in our building too. We have a beer garden downstairs. We have restaurants, and we want to be able to tie those in with the betting going on in the sportsbook [called The Book] once we have online and new kiosks around the building – to kind of bring it all together ahead of football season.”
Concerns for sportsbook heads have been whether or not the traffic to their retail sportsbooks will dip once online is fully up and running, and will the increased competition be a problem? But Albrecht sees it more as a “rising tide lifts all boats” scenario.
“Right now it just looks like it’s all going to continue to grow, and as we’ve seen with New Jersey already – it’s not like it’s cutting into Nevada’s business,” Albrecht told MetroBet. “It’s just growing in a whole new market. Maybe some of these states that abut each other might cut into one another a little bit so it will be interesting to see how much Pennsylvania and New Jersey cut into one another – but I think for a few years we’ll all just be in growth mode.”