Rivers Casino Welcomes Sports Betting To Pittsburgh

The first licensed sportsbook in Pittsburgh is on the North Shore

Shelby Cassesse
December 14, 2018 - 9:33 am

PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - The first licensed sportsbook in Pittsburgh opened at the Rivers Casino Thursday.

Casino executives celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and welcomed selected customers to place the first bets. 

Located near the high stakes room, the sportsbook features 11 big screen televisions, leather theatre chairs and the option to either place a bet with a casino employee or at a self-service betting terminal. 

Rivers Casino and Philadelphia casino SugarHouse are the second and third Pennsylvania to offer sports betting and began the two-day testing period Thursday. If the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is satisfied with the casinos' performances during the testing period, they will give their approval for permanent operations Saturday. 

Gaming Control Board communications director Doug Harbach is planning to see legal sports betting take revenue from underground gambling. 

"Approximately $160 billion of sports wagering is done underground, and if some of that could be brought above ground and wagered legally at places like the Rivers, it should produce some significant tax revenue." 

Though the current sportsbook is now open, it is not expected to be in place for long.  

Rivers Casino general manager Bill Keena said plans are in the works for a permanent sportsbook expected to open in the third quarter of 2019.

"We have architects, right now, that are taking another area of the casino, an area we defined that we think it's the right place for our sportsbook, and they're doing drawings on it right now."

He said the permanent sportsbook will be more centrally located on the casino floor. 

The opening of the sportsbook comes just in time for one of the biggest football games at Heinz Field this year. The Steelers host the New England Patriots Sunday at 4:25 pm, and crowds at the Rivers Casino are expected to be larger than normal.

Keena said they will be opening additional betting terminals, but still suggests leaving early for the game if you want to place a bet before kickoff. 

"We can literally move some of the crowd away from here when we're going to get huge lines, and I believe we're probably going to have them. We're urging people to come early if you want to place a bet on that Sunday."