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November 13, 2023

Winning Big: Is Sports Betting or Gambling More Popular in Philadelphia?

Sports Betting Gambling
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Philadelphia leads many US cities as the center of sports and entertainment. In fact, Philadelphians are reputed to be the most passionate sports fans in the United States. This historic city houses sports franchises like the Eagles, Phillies, 76ers, and Flyers. It also has lovely venues like the Wells Fargo Center, Citizens Bank Park, and Lincoln Financial Field. The city attracts millions of visitors yearly, whether to watch a game or a show. So, it is no surprise that Philadelphians participate largely in sports betting.

But Philadelphians are not only sports betting fans; traditional casino gambling is also popular in the city. The city houses several casinos and gambling establishments where residents and visitors can play different gambling games, from slot machines to number games, poker, and more.

After Pennsylvania legalized various types of gambling in 2017, both casino gambling and sports betting grew rapidly. Casino gambling generated over $900 million in just two years, while sports betting generated $309 million in three years. But which pastime drives more action in the City of Brotherly Love - sports betting or casino gambling? This article aims to answer this question by exploring the trends in both industries.

Poker Drives the Gambling Trend

Poker takes the lead in Philadelphia’s gambling industry. Many major poker tournaments occur in the city, attracting many players taking part in those regular tournaments, but why is poker the most popular gambling trend in Philadelphia?

Aside from the fact that poker games offer psychological thrills (from calculating odds, reading opponents, and executing the perfect bluff) that many other games can’t replicate, other factors drive their popularity in Philadelphia.

One major factor is the rise of online casinos, allowing many Philadelphians to play poker virtually. Players no longer need to visit physical casino establishments to get their poker fix; they can simply log into an app to compete with other players worldwide.

We can also attribute the popularity of poker in Philadelphia to how easy learning the game is. Many of these online casinos offer resources (like learning materials and glossaries) that help beginners learn important poker terms, helpful betting strategies, and tips.

Between the widespread use of online casinos and how one can easily learn poker, it is no surprise that poker has won the hearts of many Philadelphians who love gambling.

Football Drives the Sports Betting Trend

For Philadelphians who love sports betting, football reigns supreme. Football is practically a religion in Philadelphia, and Philadelphians spend millions of dollars betting on football yearly.

According to PlayPennsylvania, Pennsylvania sportsbooks handled over $1 billion in football wagers during the 2022 NFL season. This significantly rose from the $122 million wager on the team’s games during the 2021 season.

Beyond the Eagles, football betting extends to college games and the NFL as a whole. In 2021, football accounted for 46% of all sports betting in Pennsylvania. In fact, sports betting peaks significantly in the fall and early winter during football season.

Like in poker, one of the driving factors for the popularity of football betting in Philly is the rise of online betting. It makes betting easier, faster, and more accessible.

Philadelphia's Place in the National Picture

Although there is a shortage of data on where Philadelphia stands in the United States gambling and betting scene, we can make assumptions from the whole state of Pennsylvania. Compared to many other US states, Pennsylvania has cemented itself as a gambling and sports betting powerhouse.

The state has emerged as a major sports betting and gambling state compared to others. In 2021, Pennsylvania ranked second in commercial casino revenue, at over $4 billion. The state also ranked high in sports betting handle, at over half a billion dollars.

This growth can be attributed to Pennsylvania's early adoption of the gambling expansion measures. The state had legalized casino gambling in 2004 and online gambling in 2017. Sports betting also arrived early in Pennsylvania, going live in 2018 a. Compared to other large states, Pennsylvania moved aggressively to establish itself as a gambling and betting hub.

Final Thoughts

While poker and other casino games remain widely popular, sports betting is the dominant gambling trend in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania overall. The passionate sports culture centered around football and the rise of online sportsbooks has created a perfect storm of betting interest.

Sports betting is set to keep growing in Philadelphia, with major teams stirring enthusiasm. Also, the rise of online casinos gives traditional gambling (especially poker) fans plenty of ways to play exciting games.

This content was published as part of a marketing partnership between PhillyVoice Media and Ignition Casino.’s newsroom and editorial staff were not involved in the creation of this content.