How Legalized Sports Betting Has Changed the Philadelphia Sports Scene

Philadelphia sports writer Shamus Clancy shares his views on how legalized sports betting has changed the game day experience for Pennsylvanian sports fans.

Nearly three years since Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill into law legalizing sports betting in the state of Pennsylvania, Philadelphians continue to see it rapidly changing the city’s sports scene. Beyond citizens easily being able to bet the Eagles money line on a relaxing Sunday afternoon or to take the overs when the Sixers face off with the rival Boston Celtics, it’s changing how fans both view and experience the sports world.

There are few bonds as strong as the one between the Philadelphia Eagles and their fans. Given the rate to watch sports gambling skews to the NFL and football overall, the crazed Philadelphia fan base now has a convenient avenue to place wagers on their beloved Birds. Gone are the offshore black market bookmakers. Gone are the worries that come with that. Each and every Sunday in the fall, fans can comfortably place wagers while simply sitting on their sofas. 

Beyond the obvious aspects of Philly fans now placing on their favorite squads, there are concrete communal changes occurring. The Wells Fargo Center, the home of the Sixers and Flyers for almost 25 years, now has legalized in-arena gambling. Something that would’ve seemed mystifying even a half-dozen years ago is now a reality for Philadelphians who attend games at the Farg, as locals may call it.

In a partnership with SugarHouse Casino, which sits alongside the Delaware River in Philadelphia, the Wells Fargo Center unveiled two sportsbook lounges within their confines, a spot where all ticketholders are welcome to place wagers. The fact that these areas come equipped with a bar, comfortable seating and loads of television screens only heightens the experience of attending live sporting events. This branding from SugarHouse also brings greater awareness to fans about their online mobile app sportsbook, increasing the chance that they will make wagers both in and outside the arena. 

Those amenities aren’t stopping anytime soon either. Area developers are nearing completion of the Live! Casino and Hotel that will be located in the Philadelphia Sports Complex, which hosts the stadiums of the city’s four main professional sports league teams and the highly popular Xfinity Live! bar and dining complex. While Xfinity Live! has long been the place to be for Philly sports fans who aren’t attending the games proper, the opening of this new casino will attract those ticketless fans ready and willing to put down the wager on the next big game. Whether a given fan has season tickets or just likes to hang around the parking lot tailgating and taking in the pregame festivities, there’s going to be a legitimate opportunity for them to take part in sports betting in a way that’s never been possible in the city.

The fervor of Philadelphia fans is unmatched. This type of passionate sports fandom is often looked up in a negative light, as the national media loves to drag up infamous stories of throwing snowballs at Santa Claus and stadium brawls, but no city has people more invested in their sports teams than Philadelphia. Beyond that emotional investment, these die-hards now have every opportunity to make a financial one. 

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